The Critics Corner | HOPE is stronger than HATE- alternative band Hawthorne Heights releases new E.P


61XEPWMB7cL._SL500_AA280_By Maura Harwood

Title:  HOPE (EP)

Label:  Cardboard Empire

Release Date:  June 5, 2012

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

I will put this bluntly: I am not a hardcore person. Soft acoustic guitar melodies and pretty harmonies nearly always trump screaming vocals and pounding guitar riffs for me. There is most likely a 15% chance at most that you will find me in any sort of mosh pit or whipping my head around to sweaty rock singers.

In fact, the closest I’ve gotten to any sort of rock music stems from Fall Out Boy and Bowling For Soup, alternative bands, or “punk” bands as I liked to refer to them in middle school. Therefore, when I found myself with Hawthorne Heights’, a screamo rock band from Ohio, brand new E.P, it’s safe to say that I was just a little bit overwhelmed.

Like all unfamiliar territory, it was going to take me some time to adjust to. But after letting my ears wallow in the soaring guitar and anthem-like screaming vocals, I found hints of the “punk music” I’d enjoyed when I was younger, the angsty ridden music that my 13 year old self used to thrash about to. While Hawthorne Heights is way beyond “angst-ridden teenager music”, it was nice to make some kind of connection.

The band’s new E.P HOPE is the second in an alleged trilogy of EP’s, preceded by HATE. I took it upon myself to listen to HATE. The lyrics were filled with just that: hate and anger and screaming. Maybe it’s just my insatiable, girly desire for happiness and love, but if I were to compare the two E.P’s, HOPE simply takes the cake, not only because of its lyrical content, but because I simply enjoyed the music more.

The title track is especially charming. “Hope…it always guides me home,” sings lead vocalist JT Woodruff, something I would not expect to come out of the lyrics of a hardcore band such as Hawthorne Heights.

“Vandemonium” was another favorite of mine. The song opens with an anthem like sort of stadium rock sound, which I took a liking to. The song also had a happy kind of upbeat tone to it.

“New Winter” is definitely one of the most rock driven songs on the E.P.  It featured Woodruff’s daughter Avery at the end of it, singing what sounded like the chorus of the song, which is a sweet touch. I also enjoyed “There Was A Kid (Part 2)” which also featured a child’s voice at the end of it  (who I assume to also be Woodruff’s daughter) that says, “Hope means that you really want someone to come back!” An adorable piece of truth that we can all relate to.

The four other songs, “Stranded,” “Running In Place (NIKI AM), “Chemicals”, and “Nowhere Fast” were also enjoyable to listen to, but because I found no real outstanding quality about them, it contributed to my initial skepticism about the EP.

Despite my step into new territory, I found that I really enjoyed the EP the more that I listened to it. For me, though it was an acquired taste, Hawthorne Heights has released an album worthy of a listen, or in my case, several listens. Perhaps I’ll be expanding my iTunes library in the near future!

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