Hopesfall No Wings To Speak Of
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1. Open Hands To The Wind
2. April Left With Silence
3. The End Of An Era
4. The Far Pavilions
Although recent press might have you believe otherwise, Hopesfall is not in fact a new band, sprung from the imagination of Trustkill Records: their first album, the phenomenally difficult-to-get-ahold-of 'Frailty of Words,' has been out three years now.It's damn fine music, though a little under-recorded; unfortunately, for whatever reasons the wheels of the music industry spin sometimes, other times lay silent, this was not a CD to get much in the way of a widespread audience.It was then met with a great deal of joy when Hopesfall put an EP out last year titled 'No Wings to Speak Of,' one clearly still influenced by the style of their earlier work, but with a sonorous spirit rarely matched in the world of underground music.I do not exaggerate to say my jaw dropped the first time I spun this little record.
Hopesfall is - at the roughest level - one of those hybrid bands we see everywhere now, although judging by their age, and remembering how moved I was the first time I heard their early stuff, they were probably one of the first.They seamlessly blend hardcore, emo, post-hardcore, and even a touch of indie-rock into a dense, layered sound that flows on little rivulets through the air.They are not much metal, so don't expect a lot of double-bass fueled mosh, and they're not much chaos either: theirs is a consistently beautiful, smooth sound.The four songs on 'No Wings to Speak Of' fit together so harmoniously you tend to think "composed" rather than "written."But don't be misled: they use heavy grooves, and they do breakdown from time to time - not the conspicuous sort, that a band has to break into, but rather ones that have their place in the song's overall structure.If you need to make a comparison, think Taken on a really mellow day.Hopesfall is at its strongest with passages of thick, emotional chord progression; bright, piercing, beautiful riffing done in repeated patterns; and two vocals overlapping each other, each harsh and crisp, with a sort of spiritual purity to them.
The EP opens with "Open Hands to the Wind," a poor choice in my opinion as it's the weakest song here (though still not remotely bad).This song strikes me as the least unique of the four: it seems to draw more from more conventional hardcore stylings of bands like Poison the Well or Evergreen Terrace.However, only a quarter of the way through, and the music subtly changes, and the good becomes nearly sublime.There seems to be a constant striving upward, for some hope that can never be realized."April Left With Silence" begins on a somber, grooved meditation on silence, then moves into slightly-discordant, raw melody, while a steady, pounding bass line hints at kickboxing to come.About halfway through, there is a stunning moment when dissonant, heavy chords are chugging away and suddenly melodic riffing blossoms out and upward like a lonely flower on a mountaintop."The End of an Era," the best song on the ep (and one already gaining a lot of notoriety in the scene) is nearly seven minutes of beauty and passion and fury.The haunting, quirky riffs it opens on break into a tremendous breakdown (overlapped with the backup guitar running a short, bright note progression); this transforms into dense chords and destructively fast drums; into high-end needling and emotional passages of song, layered in a formless blend; then a stunning tempo change, and a dark, beautiful key taken with screaming that nearly becomes wailing; then a long, soft passage of gentle, subdued instrumental music... the track goes on and on, never losing the feel of one continuous narrative told through song.Finally, "The Far Pavilions" takes an eager snare-drum run and holds onto a more frantic tune than the previous songs.This ends the album on a bright, touching, powerful note.
I note, from the liner notes, that Hopesfall is (at least to some extent) a Christian band.And whether their intent or not, they have created the most musically spiritual hardcore album I believe exists today - a sort of elemental spirituality, something of the wind and the water, precisely that conjured in the artistic design, with its tense, nebulous clouds, blacks and blues and greens.However, their music strikes me as less influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition as something Buddhist: it flows throughout with the quiet simplicity and cold beauty one associates with the austere monastery.This would be excellent music for meditation.And here, perhaps, lies the only flaw of 'No Wings to Speak Of' - though not a flaw so much as a matter of differing tastes: this is not an album that immediately lends itself to a live show; rather, it seems more suited to be played alone, or with friends, driving in the moonlight.But, as anyone who has ever seen a Thursday show can attest, if the music is brilliant, beautiful, and passionate enough, kids will go apeshit, breakdowns or not.
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