Hail the Sun
Mental Knife


4.0
excellent

Review

by Claire Q. CONTRIBUTOR (56 Reviews)
September 28th, 2018 | 70 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Within the inner circle

It was inevitable that Wake would become a yardstick for future Hail the Sun releases. Its potent mixture of elegance and unearthliness (all the while packing a punch) distinguished it as a fine work of post-hardcore; furthermore, Donovan Melero’s lyrics were able to conduct a thorough survey of death, religion, and neuroses. In comparison, Mental Knife feels more intimate in scope, staying mostly within the personal realm; any etherealness comes not so much from spirit (or contemplations of what is greater than us) than from mind - equally seeming to lack tangibility, yet infinitely more trapping.

In short: no, Mental Knife doesn’t quite have the highs of Wake, but it features notable points of change. There are plenty of my favourite Hail the Sun-isms, updated for 2018: the unbarred ferocity that is the duo of Donovan’s shrieks and his rapid-fire drum fills (particularly prominent during the closing moments of “Devotion Cuts”); the painful beauty of “On Existence” and its strategic key changes; the jazz-influenced grooves that have become a staple of the band. Also prominent are the extra-angelic backing vocals, which add a level of tenderness not heard in previous works. More electronic effects show up, generally in the form of vocal warping and warbling, but also as touches of reverberation; it’s a subtle shift in aesthetic that creates a slightly colder, darker soundscape. (Think shades of Royal Coda, if you want a comparison to another swancore band.)

Thematically, I think it makes sense for Mental Knife to show more cracks in its composure. If Wake possessed steadfast marches of protest, and Culture Scars smoothed out wrinkles, Mental Knife has a current of unease running right under the surface of its skin. The guitars scurry, punctuate, mirroring the agitation so often described; as usual, Donovan is unapologetically blunt about drug addiction and mental turmoil, and his treatment of the issues seems at least partially autobiographical. If there’s something I appreciate about Hail the Sun, it’s their ability to handle such topics with grace, a certain nobility, and that remains on Mental Knife even as the outpouring is more erratic. There’s the sense that pain has inched closer, interrupted the careful choreography that kept songs at a safer distance. That sense of urgency is evident in the chaotic, syncopated “A Lesson in Lust”, drumming patterns shifting left and right in a dexterous display.

Mental Knife is a modest evolution, an opportunity for Hail the Sun to make a straightforward re-assertion of their principles. It doesn’t lend itself to the same depth of analysis as the ambitious Wake (and sonically, Secret Wars is closer to being the spiritual successor of that album). It contains hints of the pensiveness, but not the signature restraint, of Culture Scars. Nonetheless, Mental Knife is mostly reassuring, even if it derives more of its merit from lacking obvious fault than the presentation of novel material. It’s something I’m willing to accept, at least during this point of Hail the Sun’s trajectory.



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user ratings (107)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SteakByrnes
September 28th 2018


14315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review and I agree with this 100% :]

Digging: Ithaca - The Language of Injury

Hopelust
September 28th 2018


3353 Comments


I want to like these dudes... I really want to.

EDIT: great review!

JustJoe.
September 28th 2018


5674 Comments


*transcended pos*

KenboSlice
September 28th 2018


2835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is super hot fire

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2018


24778 Comments


very good review but like hopelust i just can't get into these guys. i think donovan operates much better in sianvar

Digging: wellspring - iris's room

GreyShadow
September 28th 2018


2850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, great review. those last two sentences really sum this album up in the scope of their discography.



I'm feeling a 3.8 with this

Digging: Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center

supremejelly
September 28th 2018


1031 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Another great review. Agreed with pretty much everything. I really dig the additional vocal effects, Donovan knows how to use them well.



"There’s the sense that pain has inched closer, interrupted the careful choreography that kept songs at a safer distance." - should "interrupted" be "interrupting" or am I reading that wrong?

ProjectFreak
September 28th 2018


3346 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

gosh I love that Sputnik still has someone consistently writing grade-A prose about swancore



also the end of A Lesson in Lust is absolutely nuts

Digging: Two People - First Body

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2018


835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@supremejelly I have an annoying habit of not using an auxiliary for past tenses when listing things, so it's technically supposed to be interrupted but interrupting would be prettier



Thanks everyone for the feedback

CaptainDooRight
September 28th 2018


2646 Comments


enjoyed the title track

Ebola
September 28th 2018


3476 Comments


Feeling a 4.5. Like this more than Secret Wars

JustJoe.
September 28th 2018


5674 Comments


I unintentionally just learned something about the english language.

Nomos2
September 28th 2018


194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Too bad it's got Breaking Benjamin album art, because this is my favorite stuff they've ever put out.

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2018


835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I was wondering why they didn't go with the handdrawn art used before

impoppy
September 28th 2018


2132 Comments


Looking forward to checking this out. I kinda like the oscilloscope artwork.

SteakByrnes
September 28th 2018


14315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like the art, just would've preferred more hand-drawn shit

JoshGray672
September 28th 2018


36 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, thought the album itself was a bit predictable but still solid as fuck.

GreyShadow
September 28th 2018


2850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Predictable and solid as fuck is about right.



A Lesson In Lust and Devotion Cuts are looking like at least top 10 HTS songs

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 28th 2018


835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I love Devotion Cuts, definitely one of HtS's finer moments

also, has anyone noticed some changes in Donny's singing? feels a bit more delicate at certain moments

DreamAgain
September 29th 2018


854 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

amazing album tbh



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