Review Summary: Watch me unravel.....
Despite the title, Hundredth’s third LP Free
doesn’t feel liberating by any means. There hasn’t been a reinvention of the melodic hardcore sound the band was already so well-versed in, nor does the band seem to have freed
themselves from any creative funk they might have had in the past. For the record, their creative output has only improved as their career has progressed, but that’s neither here nor there. What is here and maybe there is the feeling that Free
is less free, and more restrained in a somewhat disappointing way.
Make no mistake, this isn’t going to be an eyesore on the young band’s fairly fleshed out discography. Free
is, at surface-level, still a fun, bouncy, and energetic round of melodic hardcore tracks. Chadwick Johnson’s raucous roar is as full and commanding as it has been in the past and, as expected, carries a good bit of the record. The instruments don’t sound overly simplistic at any point and they lack for nothing technically speaking. The issue is that nothing manages to reach past being just good. The ten main songs (absenting the minute long intro) mostly fail to reach past a flat three minute track length and as a result blend together. Even had some of them been stretched out a bit, I worry that there would still be a lack of highlights that their last album, Let Go
did have (“Remain and Sustain”, “Weathered Town”, “Hurt”). In addition, the album feels rather one-note. All the tracks have roughly the same progression of tones and sounds, being a mixture of crushing hardcore riffs and layered melodic leads. On the one hand, Hundredth did spend two EPs exploring the respective poles of their sound, Resist
being the most vulnerable and measured of their output and Revolt
representing the band at their most metallic and loud. Free
by comparison, forges the two together, but in too bland a fashion.
One thing noticeably missing on Free
are the clean vocals that appeared sporadically on Let Go
. Never overused, and always appearing at just the right moments, they seemed to light up Hundreth’s best songs in the past. The lack of them here simply leaves a rather linear vocal performance in place. Johnson’s vocals are fantastically executed, but few would call him an extremely varied front man. His mid-range screams are dominant throughout, with the exception of leadoff single “Unravel” where Johnson utilizes a dirty half shouted/half screamed tone in much the same way they would have used clean vocals. Instrumentally, if there is anything truly approaching a highlight it would be “Daze”, which features a catchy earworm of a melody that is unfortunately buried too deeply in the song’s mixing.
is far from anything approaching bad, it’s surely less than what Hundredth is capable of. Any of the band’s last three releases are evidence of that, and it’s a shame that the band couldn’t continue their streak of strong releases with this. Regardless, Free
is a spot of good fun for any Hundredth fan and another solid outing from the melodic hardcore genre that doesn’t totally disappoint.