Hail the Sun
Divine Inner Tension


4.7
superb

Review

by Mitch Worden EMERITUS
August 16th, 2023 | 479 replies


Release Date: 08/11/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There can only be one.

Let’s get right to it: Swancore is dead. I’m not here to belabor a point about a shipwreck where everyone saw the damn iceberg coming. The bands that were gone remain gone, the ones faltering faltered some more, and the rest of the field shrugged their shoulders and went down with the vessel. Hail the Sun miraculously evaded this catastrophe and, partially by default, became the reigning kings of a crumbling kingdom. Understanding how this happened involves wheels, talks of reinventing said wheels, laurels and whether they must be rested upon, Macbook jokes--the whole nine yards of Swan-Lore and how one collective survived the carnage. Make no mistake; though the scene’s implosion is as well-documented as the Costa Concordia disaster, the boys from Chico, California have earned their position as the sub-genre’s resilient final boss. Their sixth LP not only stands as a triumphant assertion of the band’s enduring talent, but also as a perfect encapsulation of their mish-mash of Fall of Troy and funky, progressive post-hardcore shenanigans. To make things all the more enticing, Hail the Sun have opted to take these elements and shoot them out of a canon, leading to a blistering rollercoaster capable of providing ceaseless headbanging-worthy rockers.

Divine Inner Tension isn’t quite an adjustment of the group’s identity, but a glorious celebration of their career to this point. This not a copy-paste job, however; whereas New Age Filth focused intently on a more pop-oriented methodology, the quintet’s latest attempts to merge that approach with the unchained technicality of Mental Knife, resulting in a record replete with winding riffs, gorgeous melodies, and bombastic refrains that cap off impactful climaxes. Doing so cures what ailed those prior efforts--the predictability of the former and the gaudiness of the latter--and generates a lethal combo of memorability and thrilling instrumentation. Lead single “Chunker” embodies this tweaked direction, featuring intertwining melodic guitars that shred away on top of a groovy bass riff, ultimately collapsing into a massive chorus that highlights Donovan Melero’s robust tenor vocals, never once losing momentum or wandering off-course. The song’s second half suddenly swerves into gentle strumming that slowly vanishes into the distance, clearing space for the twinkling, math-tinged intro of “60-Minute Session Blocks”--an absolute banger that’s decorated with trademark Swancore tones and supported by another anthemic refrain that explodes from the rising tension portrayed in the verses.

Hail the Sun can still dazzle with instrumental wizardry, but their technical prowess doesn’t exist merely for show; it grants every track a unique identity, guiding tunes through shifting interiors that toe a delicate balance between pop brilliance and progressive metal adventuring. “The Story Writes Itself” manages these elements superbly, carefully navigating through dueling guitars, a reverberating bass riff, and lurking breakdowns, all while ramping up to crash into an uncannily addicting chorus. In its second half, the track deconstructs itself, eventually rising from acoustic strumming, chants, and Melero’s desperate screams into a sudden flurry of blast beats. Penultimate tune “Little Song” similarly distinguishes itself in a novel manner, utilizing a distorted melody and a groovy bass to orchestrate several tempo shifts, simultaneously venturing through verses decorated by a twangy lead riff. Rather than crafting a grand spectacle, the track’s closing minutes are a serene descent; after reaching an apex, acoustics take hold, quietly escorting the song away and permitting its emotional peak to settle in. This variety prevents the record’s heavily melodic, chorus-drive style from blending together, with every song possessing a different approach or unique journey en route to a soaring refrain.

The greatest asset of Divine Inner Tension is likely its fathomless energy supply. From the erupting guitars and bouncing rhythm of “Tunnel Vision Alibi,” the album embarks upon a relentless pace that races through its 42-minute duration, establishing a level of vitality and aggression that stands unmatched by peers. Ranging from the unbridled assault of “Tithe” and its venomous screams to the imposing chorus of “I Saw You Hanging,” Hail the Sun refuse to ease off. Inserted throughout are bursts of raw old-school power that inject further adrenaline in the form of destructive breakdowns or transformative bridges--check the discordant ending that rips “Maladapted” apart or the aforementioned fury of “Tithe,” which is practically overflowing with a surprising level of rage. Melero’s vocals shine in this setting; the charismatic frontman has gradually improved since focusing more on his singing, with his newest outing being his most confident and varied yet. He still has harsh vocals in store--the finale of “The Story Writes Itself” demonstrates as much--but his distinctive tenor belting has been sharpened, capable of dominating the upbeat “60-Minute Session Blocks” or employing a softer, emotive approach on the acoustic “Feeble Words.” In a blink, Divine Inner Tension has reached its conclusion, but the vibrant rush to that finish is a phenomenal experience.

Considering the dire state of Hail the Sun’s surrounding scene, hearing a release this impassioned and catchy seemed impossible. When reflecting on what all led to this particular juncture, I’m left to wonder if, after everything--the drama in the category, stabs at supergroups, diminishing returns, breakups, a lack of up-and-coming acts--I had taken the Cali crew for granted. It wasn’t long ago New Age Filth altered perceptions, exhibiting an intensity that was far from expiring, and Wake has aged wonderfully in the meantime. It really shouldn’t be a surprise anymore that the Sun gang have again impressed and surpassed expectations with flying colors. If there’s meant to be only one constant remaining in Swancore, unflinching while maintaining an amazing standard of quality, it seems appropriate that Hail the Sun rise above the label and all associated bullsh*t. Divine Inner Tension is the sub-genre’s Endgame moment; all else afterwards is for the Chico collective to determine, and in hindsight, there’s no better candidate to bury the trend. This is the sound of a band still resolutely in their prime, still delivering on a core sound that has gracefully evolved over their discography, and still staying afloat regardless of the changing tides. It’s all of the beautiful traits that have brought Hail the Sun unquestionably to the forefront of their field, and its unashamedly bright, gloriously melodic sound might deserve the year’s end crown when the dust settles.



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user ratings (269)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Emeritus
August 16th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

And hopefully that's the last I ever write about Swancore. It is dead. Long live Hail the Sun.



Probably an overreaction/hype review but this has lived rent-free in my head since I got the promo weeks ago. Absolutely in love with this and it has me reevaluating the group's entire career.



Album available on Spotify. I bought an apple at the market and ate it. That is all.



Let me know what y'all think!

MarsKid
Emeritus
August 16th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Early top 5 in loose order:

1. "60-Minute Session Blocks"

2. "The Story Writes Itself"

3. "Little Song"

4. "Maladapted"

5. "Tithe" / "Chunker"

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2023


61310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

RIP Swancore - you lived fast, died young, and dated younger still

MarsKid
Emeritus
August 16th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Yet I reviewed it twice this year, I never learn stg

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2023


61310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Gotta pay them bills bby

MarsKid
Emeritus
August 16th 2023


21035 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

When does mx send the checks, it is months now and the landlord has cut off my water supply

JayEnder
August 16th 2023


20470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Eat your heart out DGD



Album is so damn good, might even be better than Wake. Maladapted is ridiculously catchy

nash1311
August 16th 2023


8300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man he posted the review shwow here it is in all it’s glory

nash1311
August 16th 2023


8300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

“ whereas New Age Filth focused intently on a more pop-oriented methodology, the quintet’s latest attempts to merge that approach with the unchained technicality of Mental Knife, resulting in a record replete with winding riffs, gorgeous melodies, and bombastic refrains that cap off impactful climaxes. Doing so cures what ailed those prior efforts--the predictability of the former and the gaudiness of the latter--and generates a lethal combo of memorability and thrilling instrumentation.”



This. This is it right here



Also, what’s a hangbang

Purpl3Spartan
August 16th 2023


8791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Álbum owns nice rev

clavier
Emeritus
August 16th 2023


1173 Comments


my faith in this band was not misplaced

MuhNamesTyler
August 16th 2023


6706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review

GreyShadow
August 16th 2023


7134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i think this is my favorite of the past 3 as an album but the past 2 have higher highlights.

great review friend, glad you're loving it this much. the aforementioned impactful climaxes have breathed some extra life into this one and I'm all for it.

still would love to see them make some sort of greater shakeup in the future but as long as the sun's in that future, it's definitely gonna continue being bright

onionbubs
August 16th 2023


21577 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah i know that hoping for a big shakeup is way too much to ask for from this band but the next album would be the one to do it



rad album tho got a lot of grandiosity and bombastic swell which they sell pretty confidently

JayEnder
August 16th 2023


20470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

60 Minute Session Blocks 🥵

conesmoke
August 16th 2023


7875 Comments


Swancore is gay

conesmoke
August 16th 2023


7875 Comments


Hail ye mum

KenboSlice
August 16th 2023


3841 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Seeing these dudes tomorrow

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2023


1974 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules. Review rules. Thanks for doing this Marsbro

KrillBoi
August 16th 2023


477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

First spin and this is definitely already in my top 10.



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