I absolutely hate the term “emo”, but Hawthorne Heights has always been the poster child for that genre. Throughout most of their discography, you’ll find a lot of dark lyrics and just downright haunting songs… but things seem to take a different turn on this release. I won’t use the word “poppier” to describe it, but it’s more… happy? Whatever you wanna call it, they definitely stray away from what we have come to expect from them.
This 8 track EP opens with a track consisting of mostly voiceover which leads us directly into “New Winter”, perhaps the catchiest song they’ve written in years. It’s your typical Hawthorne Heights track, featuring their patented blend of hardcore screaming + clean vocals at the same time, and a super catchy chorus.
“Running In Place (Niki AM)” is up next, and is obviously somehow related to their song Niki FM, from their first album. Comparing the two, I still much prefer FM (in fact, it’s one of my favorite Hawthorne Heights songs ever), but this one ultimately turns into an above average track with a killer bridge/outro.
“Stranded” seems to be a song done at half pace, but still remains very heavy. The hardcore vocals shine on this and I’m a fan of the guitarwork. “Nowhere Fast” is another mid-tempo song, but this one consists entirely of clean vocals. It’s actually kind of boring, but it serves it’s purpose as being the traditional slow song bands feel the need to put on records.
Up next is the title track, “Hope”. The palm muted intro and cheesy chorus definitely give it a pop punk vibe. The positive message and enthusiasm for HOPE is definitely something different for a band that usually makes me think of driving at night on a cold winter evening.
It keeps coming with “Vandemonium”, the fist-pumping-jump-on-your-feet song of the EP. It’s about touring and just spending time with friends on the road, and how much they love that life. It’s a simple song that is sure to become a favorite.
The closer “Chemicals” is arguably the hardest hitting song on this release and one of the more memorable songs they’ve written in a while. It smacks you like a ton of bricks and doesn’t let up until the outro. Songs like this is what made me love Hawthorne Heights years ago, so it’s great to see they still have it.
At one point, Hawthorne Heights was my favorite alternative band. I was about 17 when their first album was released and I just couldn’t get enough of it… I hadn’t heard of many bands that can do the sing+scream style so well other than Silverstein. It has been a few years since I’ve really paid attention to these guys, but I’m glad I have because this EP could be something special. The new energy and tone of this apparent new direction is sure to put them on the map again as well as HOPEfully bring in new fans.