Review Summary: Three heads are better then one.
Vocalists are the bread and butter of almost any band. Without a good front man, a band will most likely plummet into obscurity and will not return for a future release. In some cases, bands will be almost cradled by the lead singer, making it sound unnatural and rushed. There have been bands led by the lead singer, hogging up the spotlight and always being the center of attention. This brings the overall sound of the music down a notch, as it gives you no reason to care about the instrumentation which may be average at best. Finding a good vocalist for a band today is a rather difficult task, but how about having three vocalists in the same band with superb talent on each front? Hot Cross not only succeeds to blend a triple layered vocal performance with high quality demeanor and effort, but having a band that doesn’t slouch behind.
Hot Cross’s debut is a breakthrough for the hardcore genre. Triple layered vocals are a rare find in any band today unless collaborated. The three vocal sounds consist of a screamer and two clean vocalists. Each take their turns nicely on most songs, with the screamer dominating in play time. The album sounds at its best when all three vocals join in at the same time to form a unique harmony. This can be found on “Pretty Picture of a Broken Face”, where the screaming is trailed by clean vocals switching back and forth. This is incredibly unique for a hardcore band, as most have only one vocalist who can only scream. This does mean the album treads into some post-hardcore territory at some points, yet the screaming does significantly out weight the clean vocals. Lyrically, the clean vocals mostly symbolize regret and honesty, while the screams are filled with pure anger and hatred. There aren’t any pleasant songs on the album, so be ready for a rage induced joy ride.
With such high vocal standards, the instruments have to be exceptionally good to carry on the full experience. This is where I start having mixed feelings for the album, as the instruments can sound top notch at some points. There are even times where I think the instrumentation actually out do the vocals, but then there are those times where they sound bland and generic. While the good is more present then the bad, more effort on the instruments in some movements and songs would have increased the overall experience to a new height. When the guitars and drums are at the top of their game, it creates a remarkable experience, which is why I believe the first few songs suffer. Each song is comprised of generic riffs and drum blasts that become rather predictable. Overall, the instruments do make a fair share of memorable moments possible, but slack behind at a few parts to sound a little bit inconsiderate of the vocals.
With high valued vocals and instruments that mostly stay true to the sound, this is a great album to listen too. Lyrics are full of anger and resentment, just as most hardcore bands attempt, but they put a clever spin on them with different voices and delivery. The band sounds great together a high majority of the time, and there is a lot of variety in soft and hard songs. Some songs from start to end are gritty and intense, while others start off soft, just to end off with a bang. This is a great hardcore release from a group of top notched musicians, but my highest recommendation is too take some notes from the vocals, and marvel at what they achieved.