Hope is Our Shield/ Rebuild: Recover EP
Best Element: Well-thought out post-hardcore song structures.
Occasionally, I cringe when I have to review a band. Sometimes it’s because the review is hard to write due to some aspect of the music. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have the time or energy. Sometimes it’s because I like the album, but I have to give it a mediocre review. Unfortunately, Hope is Our Shield’s EP “Recover: Rebuild” is one of those albums.
Their post-hardcore/emo sound is tight, but the vocalist brings HIOS down immensely. I hate to say that as well, as he is purely the vocalist, and not a guitarist/vocalist, but it’s the truth- his sung vocals really detract from the music. They’re not in the same tone as the hardcore music they try to fit over. HIOS is really good at playing their songs, as they bring an interesting aesthetic to each song with the use of keys, but everything they accomplish just feels cheapened after the vocals are added to it.
Enough of the vocals. That’s the depressing part of the review. On to the good part. HIOS does play post-hardcore, and before we go on, a quick definition of post hardcore is in order. *ahem*
Post-Hardcore- Post-Hardcore is what happened when hardcore kids discovered that they didn’t always have to play hard and fast. They started experimenting, playing hard and slow, or fast and soft, or soft and slow- but always keeping the tough, rough vocals of hardcore. Post-hardcore bands revel in making interesting aesthetics to their music, which is why I’ve said ‘aesthetics’ three times in this review already.
The music shifts back and forth between tension-filled interludes of mellower fare and bursts of hardcore anger, screaming, and the like- just like many post-hardcore bands. The formula isn’t what’s so good about HIOS- it’s how they pull it off. All their instruments fit together. When they play, it just feels like one big instrument doing different things. If I were to break down the songs into instrumentation (as I’m known to do) I would be destroying the idea that HIOS has set forth. In fact, to an extent, these songs run together as well, presenting a cohesive idea throughout the entire album. This is great for a post-hardcore band- most can barely keep the same flow through a song. The best song here is the epic “Choke”- it isn’t the loudest, isn’t the most powerful, but it’s just inordinately moving. You feel a connection with it unlike any other song on this album. It could be the finger-snap transition from mellow to dual screamers, then finger-snap transition back to mellow, or it could be the ‘gets-under-your-skin’ bass line…either way, this song is great.
If you can get past the crappy sung vocals and focus on the music here, this is a great album. It has some excellently thought out song structures and song cohesiveness. Hope Is Our Shield could be a very exciting band if they can keep a mood throughout an LP as well as they have through this EP; because even this short of an album leaves an impact on me. I can’t wait for their longer-form stuff.