Review: Hawthorne Heights – Hope

Hawthorne Heights - Hope

If you would have told me in 2005 that Hawthorne Heights would be thriving in the DIY scene, I would have laughed hysterically right in your face. They had just debuted in the top 3 of the Billboard Charts with If Only You Were Lonely, selling hundreds of thousands of records, and selling out shows everywhere. But now they are becoming poster boys for the DIY scene, as they are set to release their second Cardboard Empire record, Hope – the sequel to 2011’s angry and despair-ridden Hate. It’s always a risky move to go the DIY route. Instead it has reinvigorated the band’s creativity and their career, as Hate relieved any doubt fans might have had about Camp HH going down the DIY road. The band’s previous popularity and their drive to create something meaningful for their selves and their fans have resulted in the band embracing the DIY scene as its most unlikely champions. After unleashing some pent-up aggression on Hate, the Ohio quartet turn to optimism on Hope, combining the intensity from Hate with the melodies that gained so many fans years ago.

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Review: Hawthorne Heights – Hate

Hawthorne Heights - Hate

Hate is a strong word. As a kid, I was advised by my parents to not use that word lightly, so much so that I would usually say “strongly dislike!” instead. But in Hawthorne Heights’ case, hate is absolutely the right word to use. After the personal strife and label drama the band has been through, it only makes sense that they titled their first independent release Hate. The self-funded and self-produced EP features nine of Hawthorne Heights most volatile, vulnerable, and pissed-off songs. After a their brief stay at Wind-Up Records, the Ohio quartet decided to ditch record labels all together. They wanted to release music whenever they wanted to and however they wanted to, thus creating their own label, Cardboard Empire. 

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Review: Hawthorne Heights – If Only You Were Lonely

Hawthorne Heights - If Only You Were Lonely

There are two overly weak aspects of Hawthorne Heights’ If Only You Were Lonely, and they are the same two elements that plagued their high selling The Silence in Black and White. Lyrically, Hawthorne Heights needs a lot of work to pass up the post-hardcore clichés of their predecessors in their own songwriting, and they need to do something more profound with their triad of guitars. When you have three people playing the same instrument and a bassist to add to the mix, we need something more complex than a flourish or a little reverb here and there to accent the lead guitar. Any metal or hardcore band worth their salt can play something similar with one guitarist and a bassist; the band has a huge opportunity to make grippingly corrosive music to curl your toes, the likes of which modern music has not seen. Instead, The Fully Down (who also have three guitarists) put Hawthorne Heights to shame in that department.

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