Use Your Voice

Written by: PP on 26/11/2015 21:28:55

"I never fit in, I never wanted to". Often characterized as clean vocal hardcore, melodic punk stalwarts H2O have always spouted similar lines about rebellion against the mainstream through the punk subculture as they do on album opener "Black Sheep". Quite predictably, "Use Your Voice", their sixth album and the first one in seven years, offers more of the same formula that has ensured their status as a cult band within melodic punk/hardcore for two decades now. Raw, crunchy guitars often shift into furious lightning speed hardcore-inspired passages, even if vocalist Toby Morse never quite stretches his voice beyond gnarly yelps into a full blown scream at any point during the album. While 2008's comeback album "Nothing To Prove" offered a more pop punk influenced approach to their seminal sound, here we are back to tight, passionate melodic punk with a distinct hardcore base.

"Doin' what we love!", shouts Morse in repeated lines on "From The Heart", a leitmotif that reappears in various forms throughout the record to iterate that for H2O, life is about music and music is about life. "#NotRealLife", for instance, is fiercely critical of social media as a way of creating a fake, glorified personas, which is as far from the H2O way of life as it comes. It's infectiously catchy so the point comes through nicely in the process. And while the band may come across as slightly cliché and judgemental in their thoughts on how life should be lived, they are able to take a more light-hearted approach as well. Take a song like "Popage", for instance, which is arguably the lightest and one of the catchiest songs on the record, where the band sings about how it's okay to like Coldplay and other pop songs. "Guilty pleasures are alright", sings Morse in one of the most memorable moments of the album, where inspirational lyricism stands hand-in-hand with everyday realism and acceptance of people with all sorts of music tastes.

The same kind of balance carries through their music as well. H2O have always excelled at combining pop punk with hardcore in a manner that's decisively different from the modern incarnations of the genre like ADTR or Set Your Goals. The expression is packed with urgency and immediacy, and so it feels less gimmicky and tacky in comparison. The late 90s melodic punk sound has a leading presence on the record, as does passionate delivery and a knack for writing catchy, yet perhaps not exactly radio-friendly choruses. In other words, "Use Your Voice" sounds like H2O didn't disappear for another 7 years to write 22 minutes of music, but have been there all along, given how little has changed over the years. One can only hope it doesn't take another seven for the next one.

Download: Father Figure, Popage, Thick And Thin, #NotRealLife
For the fans of: The Bouncing Souls, Good Clean Fun, Kid Dynamite, Good Riddance
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.10.2015
Bridge Nine Records

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