Hope for the Dying
is a band that certainly deserves more recognition than they have received up to now. Since they formed in 2006 from Jonesboro, Illinois, they have put out some of the best melodic metal in the scene, starting with their debut self-titled EP in 2008. While not perfect, there were some great hooks and melodies to be found in some of the band’s early steps, and the release landed the band a deal with Christian metal and rock label Facedown Records. After joining the ranks of other renowned bands such as A Plea For Purging
, War Of Ages
, and Hands
, the group released their first full-length album in 2011, “Dissimulation
,” which was truly a marvel for the metal genre. It was epic, heavy, incredibly well-written, and overall a must-have for any modern metal fan’s music collection. This certainly would put a lot of pressure on the next release, but it would nonetheless be interesting to see how it would turn out. This is where the group’s second full-length release in 2013, “Aletheia,” comes in. Seeing how stellar the preceding release was, it was time to see how these progressive metal champions would shift from their wondrous debut. The end result is one of the grandest surprises in metal history.
As miraculous as this may seem, the musicianship has gotten better since the last release, which was already very stellar to begin with. The first improvement is that there is the rather higher abundance of clean singing. Although there was a fair amount of this singing in “Dissimulation
,” there should have been more of it, because it is done incredibly well. They have a somewhat angelic tone to them, and you can certainly tell that there is much energy put into them, helping to deliver some transcendent melodies. In “Aletheia,” they are more prominent, and this is definitely a step up from before. Another great turn for the band’s sound is the production, done by Joshua
Barber, who has also done work with groups including Your Memorial
. Although the production from the last album was very well done, the mixing here is more bold and explosive, and the instrumentals sounded a tad more united and focused. As a result, the music sounds incredibly well concentrated and holds a very thick atmosphere. Both
changes are excellent
On the other hand, in regards to the initial musicianship, everything else is done excellently as well. As stated earlier, the clean singing is spectacular, but the aggressive vocals are also powerful. They are mostly composed of mid-pitch roars, which are already energetic to hold their own weight, but occasionally, there are also some low growls and high pitches. However, this few-and-far-in-between characteristic works greatly in the album’s favor like before, because they leave much more of an impact in how they are placed in certain parts of the tracks. Along with that, the instrumentals are definitely elements of “Aletheia” not to be taken lightly. The guitars deliver some awe-inspiring melodies and riffs throughout the album without falling into mere noodling. In other words, the melodies flow perfectly with the course of the music while still remaining explosive and powerful as musical forces on their own. As for the drums, the percussion is also great in how it balances flawlessly between simplicity and complexity, and how this balance helps the buildups and peaks of the music. Overall, the musicianship here is as grand as ever, and the changes described earlier that it has undergone really makes the music even more enjoyable than it already was.
Like in the past releases, “Aletheia” consists of a carefully crafted blend of melodic, symphonic, and progressive metal. The formula is a compelling listen as ever, from start to finish, because of how unbelievably well composed it is, in terms of both the heavier and lighter sides. In terms of the heavy realm, this album excels in how energetic, melodic, and powerful it is, whether the tracks are slow or fast-paced. The aggression of the vocals, guitars, and drum work really shine here, as they all simply teem with vigor and allow listeners to have their blood boiling. On top of that, the build-up that is used in certain tracks, including in “Acceptance
” and “In Isolation
,” makes the heaviness stand out even more, and sucking the audience in further with gripping hooks and climaxes to top it all off. This makes the album not just engaging, but very catchy as well, because this album is packed with so many hooks, melodies, and other nooks and crannies that will highly likely get stuck to your brain upon first listen. This is also helped by the very high abundance of synthesizer effects for orchestral sounds laden throughout the release to give the album an epic sound. They are placed at the perfect times, whether in the build-ups or the heavier moments, they are parallel to the guitars in tossing stellar melodies your way, and never overpower the rest of the music. In short, Hope for the Dying
certainly hits the bullseye in delivering incredibly potent and cinematic metal.
On the other side, “Aletheia” is certainly not without its calmer moments. This category especially includes the interludes “Serenity
” and “Through
, Darkly,” in that moments and tracks within this vein see the usage of unplugged guitars, angelic clean singing, and light but slightly jazzy drum frameworks. This works to the band’s advantage in a number of ways. Firstly, as it does with any well-written album, these more peaceful moments add a sense of dynamicity to the music, and it makes the already stellar melodic metal tread even more investing. Secondly, it provides some of the build-up to the more explosive parts of the release, as described earlier. Thirdly, they sound spectacular. They possess enormous atmosphere and soft yet gripping melodies with every minute they appear in, and they are performed awesomely. On top of mastering their own craft in aggressively epic modern metal, the group has also made it certain that they have truly excelled in conjuring up tracks in this field.
As stated earlier, with how high “Dissimulation
” set the bar for the group, it would be really difficult to match up to how much of a musical marvel it was. However, it has become clear that Hope for the Dying
has officially surpassed themselves with this masterpiece. The musicianship alone is awe-inspiring, and the couple of changes that the vocals and production underwent serve as an example of the music’s evolution. The music is really stellar as well, mastering both the heavier and softer sides of the symphonic-progressive metal genre. The way the music builds up to its climaxes and explosive moments , as well as those parts themselves, is composed so well in regards to keeping listeners engaged and wanting to hear more of it. Every last aspect of this album is done so well that no metal fan should overlook it. This album is highly recommended to any fan of both the metal and hardcore genres, and it is just a wondrous record to listen to, from start to finish. This is the perfect example of an exceptionally talented band stepping up in their game, even though the music was already great before. “Aletheia” is a must-have.