Review Summary: Unafraid of stepping into the unknown, Hundredth's new direction not only holds a candle to their past, but burns brightly in its own right.
The vitality of humanity is that nothing stays the same forever (unless you're AC/DC of course). Sooner or later, something changes, evolving into something that doesn't reflect what it once was. This assumes arguably no bigger mantle of precedence elsewhere than it does in the recording industry. Artists and bands evolve like clockwork; some do so because they embrace the inevitability of it and do it for the sake of doing so. Others do it because they yearn to be something more, something greater and to branch out. Hundredth thankfully chooses the latter with their fourth studio outing Rare
, their second long player released on Hopeless Records.
Hundredth, a formely melodic hardcore four piece hailing out of South Carolina has a seven year catalog of fiery melodic hardcore that fans of the genre have long thrilled to. Their 2015 effort Free
, while chock full of catchy bangers, was completely and utterly akin to every release that had preceded it. The group's Revolt
EPs share little to no difference in composition or approach. Even last year's single release Dead Weight
would feel completely at home on any of the group's past works. Rare
is a total shift into an alt rock/shoegaze hybrid that actually succeeds in spades.
Album opener "Vertigo" showcases a foray of neo-psychedelia and ambient electronics that suitably serve the group's new approach. Fans are treated to their first taste of Chadwick Johnson's clean vocals and it's a victory by all accounts. Johnson is a fantastic singer and this is the first of many qualities fans never knew the group's members had in their arsenal. I'm sure fans didn't know Alex Blackwell was as perfectly suited a guitarist he is for alt rock as he was for melodic hardcore. He provides a ton of catchy lead guitar on the track's chorus.
"Neurotic" features more great vocals from Johnson, but he allows his talented crew a chance to show off their instrumental chops. Lee Hutchison's drumming is some of the best this format has seen this side of Silversun Pickups. "White Squall" sees a crooning Johnson swiftly grace the listener's ears while Andrew Minervini's rhythm guitar creates a harmonic blend among the group's musicians. Minervini also provides bass that is both audible and solid to add strong depth to the track's harmony. "Suffer" features some nice guitar distortion and a mesmerizing opening that segues into strongly sung verses from Johnson.
"Down" is an all out indie rock effort with more distorted riffage to open and solid drumming from Hutchison. Johnson sings of "forgetting the hell" and "screaming through the sound" and it isn't out of the realm of plausibility to suggest this is how the group feels about forging a new direction. While I'm sure they don't hate where they've been, they must feel refreshed to advance their career with a new approach and thankfully, they succeed. "Shy Vein" has some nice synths and basslines in the opening and a catchy chorus, while album closer "Departure" uses every chance to treat the listener to one more helping of all the group's strength in an over five minute effort.
is an outstanding release that sees a band once limited by a format that didn't allow much room for experimentation within itself. Hundredth has shifted gears and by undertaking this logical and creative evolution, they've not only created new opportunities but seized them in full effect. Chadwick Johnson gives easily the best vocal performance of his young career and he, of course does so, by trading in screaming into the microphone in exchange for letting his true vocal chops shine brightly. The group's instrumentalists are also in peak form and prove themselves as convincing multi faceted musicians. One of 2017's best success stories thus far comes from a band who branch out and plant new seeds in doing so.