Hawthorne Heights

Zero

Written by: LF on 30/07/2013 15:59:55

Last time we heard from American alternative rock band Hawthorne Heights was a year ago with the release of the EP “Hope”, the second in a planned EP-trilogy. As my first experience with this band was “Hate”, the first of these EP's, this review will concern itself with the album at hand and not comment on the longer history of the band's 12-year career. The EP-project has been put on hold for the release of the concept album “Zero”. It's set in a post-apocalyptic future and the lyrics tell of a war waged against the "corporate monster" that is CALM, the Coalition of Alternative Living Methods, complete with inserted transmissions and a broadcast in the middle to frame the songs, at first reminiscent of My Chemical Romance's fourth album, “Danger Days”. This release is mostly in the pop-punk end of HH's style though it does feature a few of their usual tormented background screams as well.

My attitude towards this record can best be described as a love-hate relationship. There are some good songs here like the up-beat “Memories of Misery”, which starts the record off very promising but after that it's a rollercoaster ride with highlights being the sweet “Anywhere But Here” and “Taken By The Dark” which is the heaviest song here and the only one to feature screams heavily. “Hollow Hearts Unite” in the middle of the record deserves a mention as well. Acoustic and mellow it slows down the pace of the album before the broadcast track with lyrics that are almost over the top like: "There's a girl next door / She's got cuts up both sides of her arms / She likes the pain / Cause the pain don't break her heart / But I think I can save her". A song like the otherwise very catchy “Spark” suffers from drums which are slightly late on the beat and make the song feel like it's dragging along when it could be a danceable whirl of energy.

Many of the songs on here, like the single “Golden Parachutes”, have pretty catchy parts and because of that I've had some of them stuck in my head for weeks even though I honestly find the album overall boring and at times annoying. What really puts me off is first of all JT Woodruff's vocals. On a song like the title track “ZERO” he strains his voice in a way that results in the most annoying wailing I've heard for some time, especially in the chorus. This is also what ruined “Put Me Back Together” for me even though I really enjoyed the melody of the dual vocals in the verses. What makes “ZERO” the worst song for me is the combination of these vocals with a slow tempo and simple riffs, which would probably be good for showcasing great vocals but makes it unbearable in this combination.

So, there are catchy bits all over this album but they stand out as good parts of well-executed but boring songs. After listening to this I am mostly left in disappointment because I know this band is capable of putting songs together that are better and more complex than the ones on “Zero”. The simple song structures combined with boring solos and occasionally annoying vocals makes for an overall forgettable album for me though one or two of the songs might get a place in my random rock playlist.

Download: Memories of Misery, Anywhere But Here, Golden Parachutes, Put Me Back Together, Taken By The Dark
For the fans of: Anberlin, Silverstein, Simple Plan
Listen: facebook.com/HawthorneHeights

Release date: 25.06.2013
Red River Entertainment

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