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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

The Hope Conspiracy

Endnote

Review by Mike Korn

American hardcore music seems to be mutating minute by minute. Starting out as a kind of extra heavy punk with sing-along choruses, hardcore in recent years has added a ton of heavy metal elements and has experimented with highly bizarre and complex rhythms and time changes. Well, with The Hope Conspiracy, we get the best of both worlds. The songs are challenging and will definitely appeal to those who like the new, more sophisticated form of hardcore but at the same time, they are catchy and don't go over your head like many of the newer bands do. The music is harsh and abrasive but not to the point of insanity. Production is powerful but kind of on the dry side.

"Endnote" doesn't outstay its welcome, that's for sure. The record is a mere 27 minutes but it's so focused, the listener doesn't feel cheated. There's no wasted motion here, no long intros or samples or showing off. I do wish that the bellowing vocals had shown some more variation, as they definitely veer into monotony over the course of the record.

Word has it that they will soon be adding a second guitarist. It should be interesting to see where this band goes in the future.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Departed
Barely lasting 30 seconds, this is a jangly bit of guitar dissonance that turns into a furious chug, with a shouted declaration over it all.
Defiant Hearts
Here's a pretty vicious blast of grinding power with some slamming riffs and an absolutely killer mosh part half way through the cut.
Holocaust
This picks up right where "Defiant Hearts" left off, showing the band is not going to be showering us with Badfinger-influenced pop any time soon. This has a bit more of a complex feel to it, with some tricky time changes and an actual guitar solo, which is rare on these kinds of records.
Fallen
The bass guitar drives this tune, which has more of a pounding metal edge. There's a lot of gradually building tension on this simple cut.
Violent and Gray
Some nervous squalling guitar soon gives way to more bludgeoning, metal-influenced riffs. The chorus is reminiscent of classic hardcore. The track sounded kind of disjointed to me.
Just A Lie
The basic Hope Conspiracy sound is pretty well established by now, and this doesn't deviate too much from it. It has a bit more of a droning, dissonant feel to it, with a jangly guitar sound to it. There's good riffing here, but it's not connected all that well.
Distant
This definitely has a bit of a different sound than the other material. The guitar goes from that fuzzy ringing sound to a very chunky, staccato guitar chop. It's an instrumental.
Three Year Suicide
The band gets back on its feet with this hammering hardcore ode. The vocals are beyond angry and really transmit a lot of pain.
Deadman
The speed factor takes hold more here and this is a ravaging crusher with an almost death metal feel to some of the riffing. It's brief and to the point.
Vendetta
Maybe the album's best cut, this blasts from the get-go, with the vocalist yelling "Revenge! Revenge!". This is modern catchy hardcore at its best, with another great mosh section in the middle. "We know where you sleep/We know where you hide/We'll spit on your grave/Until the day we die".
Fading Signal
This is really different. A weird sort of guitar arpeggio with a sampled voice over starts this one. It's cool because it's so different and it leads into a slower, heavy cut with some melody to it. This side of the band should perhaps be developed a bit more.
For Love
The album closer starts with more fast and furious hardcore, with a more epic feel. They seem to be trying to unite all their influences in one cut. It radically changes gears in the second half, becoming more melodic and gradually building back up to a more measured heavy tempo.
 
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