Review Summary: A heavier and more self-reflective Hail the Sun emerges out of the experience garnered in Sianvar.
It’s been two years since the last release from Hail the Sun and the wait has been well worth it. After gaining tons of hype from their first two releases the leaders of the progressive post-hardcore movement show that they can play about more than the usual relationship drama that bogs down the Scene.
Between 2012’s Elephantitis EP and Wake the lead singer and drummer Donovan Melero founded and sang in the post-hardcore supergroup Sianvar. While I personally felt that overall the album was very weak for such a talented group of individuals one thing could not be denied: Donovan’s vocal and lyrical skill skyrocketed from the experience. Wake shows off Donovan’s new talent superbly with incredibly powerful delivery of the most climactic lines (“Black Serotonin!”) and with some very humorous lines reminiscent of their work on Pow! Right in the Kisser (“I taste the asphalt on my tongue!”). On Elephantitis the band seemed destined to go down the path of many other bands and only sing about their ex-girlfriends but that seems to have been thankfully curbed. On Wake the subject matter of the day includes police brutality, stigmatization, religion (or the lack thereof), and of course, death. This isn’t to say that all the relationship drama is gone, because it’s not, but even those tracks are now fueled more by the emotion of the instruments than by the lyrical content.
Speaking of which, the instrumentation has gone up a whole nother notch. The drumming is very deep and vivid. While the tempo has been slowed down a bit the complexity has increased and the playing feels much more frenetic while keeping a very rhythmic beat at the same time. It has a much higher emphasis than it did on their previous releases. The bass guitar sounds powerful - something a bit unusual for a post-hardcore group. It matches up with the drumming perfectly and creates an incredibly deep and thick sound which perfectly matches the lyrical themes and serves as a stark contrast to the guitar play. Of course, the guitar play is still the main draw. Often opening a song with an infectious riff and then hiding it to bring it back later, the sound is downright addictive. The skill cap has increased as well and I can say without any hint of sarcasm that I think their lead guitarist is at the same level as Thomas Erak when it comes to their technical ability.
With all this there are a couple of duds: “Mourning Sickness” and “Hanging Revelation” are completely lacking in the progressive part of progressive post-hardcore. They’re simply boring tracks. While Donovan pulls through lyrically the band itself falters and it all seems to just be a constant piece of nothingness. Just plain uninteresting. That said, all 10 of the other songs are superb. Hail the Sun does not disappoint when it comes to this release. While the jokey and playful nature of their first two releases has been lost I really don’t find myself weeping for it because the new, serious Hail the Sun is so pleasurable to listen to.
These gentlemen are the future of the genre. If you haven’t been paying attention to them now is the time to really sit down and give them a listen. I have no doubt that they’ll be as big as Dance Gavin Dance and their other contemporaries in a few short years or even months. They have a bright future ahead and Wake is the next step towards that ultimate success.
Top 3 Tracks:
Human Target Practice