Artist: Hawthorne Heights
Hawthorne Heights is a band who has always had one of those “emo” labels, due to the nature of their debut album “The Silence in Black and White” which featured 2 of their most popular songs “Ohio Is for Lovers” and “Niki FM” which approached the subject of love in a very emo way. However, with the release of their newest endeavor “Zero” which hits stores next Tuesday, they have stepped far away from that label! With the tragic death of Guitarist Casey Calvert in 2007, we saw the disappearance of screams from their music on a seemingly permanent basis, but we’ll get to that later. However, rather than hang it up, the band decided to go on and keep his memory alive through their music. After this, they released the album “Fragile Future” which featured hit singles “Rescue Me” and “Four Become One” which was the band’s story of uniting themselves after Casey’s death. In 2010, the band released “Skeletons” which was their first album in which they truly stepped out of the box and gave the fans something new, while keeping enough of their old sound to keep the interest of older fans. Now, the band is gearing up to release their first concept album “Zero” and they couldn’t have approached this album in a better way. I’m not gonna sugar coat things and say this album is perfect. As with all bands who try something new, there will always be flaws. Does that make this a bad album? Did they finally hit that brick wall in the seemingly endless ceiling that they were climbing towards? No. In fact, in more ways than one, I can truly say I think they have finally found their new sound. This album was completely funded by the site PledgeMusic via fans and I think that is what may have made this album the success that it’s destined to be. Let’s jump into the album a little more in-depth now.
The album opens up with “Skeletons Remain (Transmission 1)” which, I’m assuming is a reference to this album’s predecessor? “Tomorrow has left me behind, now I’m stuck in yesterday” is how the track starts and it’s a haunting approach, but definitely works.
When the track ends, we’re immediately jolted into “Memories of Misery” which is more upbeat, but still pretty dark in subject matter. “My memories of misery won’t save me from the storm, I lie awake til the sun comes up and the water breaks on the shore. Don’t leave me now I’m drowning and all I have has been lost. These memories of misery are all I’ve got.” Vocalist J.T. Woodruff really belts these lyrics out and you can feel the pain behind them. I’m not positive, but it seems like this track is another one in tribute to the pain still felt by the loss of Calvert.
Further into the album, we get to the title track “Zero” which sets the scene for the story behind this album. “Zero, you are the only number that I know. The price of being alone. As I get carried away, as I get carried away. Zero, you are my only hope.” This entire album seems to be set around a feeling of loss, loneliness and despair, but as you will see, that doesn’t discourage our hero.
A little further in, we get to our first interlude “Coalition of Alternative Living Methods”, which is a message to stay calm and that no matter what, everything will always turn out for the better in the end. Never give up hope and never despair.
We get almost to the end of the album and we get to the track “Taken By the Dark”. The reason I have chosen to speak about this track is because this is the first track in which you can noticeably hear screaming in HH’s music again after 6 years of holding it back. Who are we hearing doing the screams this time? None other than original member Micah Carli who has been listed on unclean vocals since 2009 but hasn’t really provided much more than background screams which are toned down until this point. When he lets out these beastly screams, you feel chills run down your spine as you realize, well, at least I did, how long it’s been since screams have been featured in their music.
Finally, we have our final track and outro “Over and Out (Transmission 2)” which is another message telling you that you are not alone. No matter where you look, there will always be someone there for you and you should never let the world bring you down. Regardless of what happens, there’s always going to be someone that will want to help and bring you back up again.
This album is good, dare I say great. However, it lacks some feeling and stay power. Some may argue with me and say that this album is one of their best, however, I will not and can not. While I will agree that it is a powerful and meaningful album, both lyrically and emotionally, it lacks a bit of what makes Hawthorne Heights who they are. It might be the production, it might be the instrumentals, who’s to say I may not have FULLY taken it all in and just not realized it. But one thing is for sure, this album will make fans happy, both old and new. But don’t take my word for it, go pick up your copy of “Zero” when it hits stores on June 25th!