02. Defiant Hearts
05. Violent and Gray
06. Just A Lie
08. Three Year Suicide
11. Fading Signal
12. For Love
2002 Equal Vision Records
Boston's Hope Conspiracy is a band that, although never actually changing the face of punk and hardcore musically, is bringing a vital and sometimes missing sense of urgency and movement to heavy music. "Endnote," the band's latest release on Equal Vision Records, isn't a showcase of metal riffs or chugging mosh parts. This is a band playing hardcore music at its purest and finest, all with a sincerity that I believe is scarcely matched by any band in hardcore today.
The second that the guitars and vocals ring in on the album's first track, "Departed", the listener can be sure that something important and authoritative is going on here.Although brief - clocking in at only 1:00 - the album's first track nicely commands the attention of the listener and prepares one for a short but to-the-point lesson in what hardcore music is all about.
For the remaining 25 minutes of "Endnote," listeners are treated to such unrelenting energy delivered with exceptional production.The guitar tracks possess a very buzzsaw-like quality; a fresh and dirty alternative to the thick chunk that is so prevalent in everyone's record collection lately.THC creates a brilliant and eerie presence with their use of guitars bending high notes over a marching rhythm section; a process highlighted best in the album's fifth track "Violent and Gray".This is something we've all heard here and there from other bands, but THC makes it more effective than ever on "Endnote."
Production-wise, perhaps best on this album are the vocals.Recorded and layered at times with what sounds like a distant and faint reverb, screams ring through and true with a very haunting impression.Kevin Baker's vocals, more than any other one element, are definitely what give THC their intensity and brutal sense of command both live and in the studio.The lyrics on this album touch mainly on dissatisfaction and despair over a number of things, and are well written.Many people will relate to the lament over lost love in "Just A Lie":"...yet every drop of faith/becomes a sea of pain...we're lovers, fighters/knives in our hands/knives in our backs/stabbing 'till the end..."Such lines are brutally poetic, and others such as the battle cry of revenge on "Vendetta" infect the listener with excitement and the desire to sing along.My only complaint here is that the vocal production seems to change a bit about halfway through the record and become less thick.This isn't exactly a change for the worse; it's just an inconsistency that seemed unnecessary.In any event, it would take much more than this to diminish the intensity found on the album.
Although traditional hardcore isn't always the place to look for new ideas in songwriting, maturity is evident in the composition department for this band on tracks like "Just A Lie", "Fading Signal", and "For Love".THC is best at delivering their own unique and sonic version of the old-school, but there definitely is potential for something more musically.Again, this sort of maturity in the band may not be what every THC fan is looking for, but some metallic hardcore enthusiasts may find this album to be more punk influenced in nature and dismiss it as unimportant.That would likely be a mistake as this band is the fresh kick in the ass that hardcore needs to stay pure and dangerous.
Bottom Line:Thank the hardcore gods for The Hope Conspiracy.I was excited about this band at first, but that excitement for whatever reason was never fully recognized.This record definitely changed that.It made me a fan, and I don't doubt that it will do the same for those who are currently in the dark about this important band.The Hope Conspiracy is a band that kids can get behind; a brilliant fusion made possible first by their tightness as a band and their blistering sincerity both on stage and on recording.This record will be a pleasure to previous fans and it will make believers out of the rest.