Album Review – Hawthorne Heights “Hate”

Up until last year, it appeared that Dayton, Ohio’s Hawthorne Heights were on an unstoppable downward spiral. With each album they released, people became less and less interested. But, after the release of Skeletons, many fans had restored faith in the band, and they actually gathered some new fans with their new direction. Then came their newest release Hate. While many people are raving about the release, it’s really not that impressive. After the comeback that was Skeletons, I expected much more.

Hate opens with a one minutes, fourteen seconds intro, “There Was a Kid (Part 1)”, that is all around boring and unimpressive. Vocalist JT Woodruff trades his signature vocals in for a more spoken word approach, which leads to a whine as the song closes. Luckily, his voice returns to form for the remaining eight tracks. The most apparent thing with the new EP is the return of the screaming. Sure it wasn’t absent on the previous full length, but it is now back with the full force from their first two albums. While older fans will rejoice at this fact, it was the lack of screaming that made Skeletons the far superior release.

“Is This What You Wanted?” and “Divided” are pretty standard tracks, as far as the EP goes. Screaming, over pseudo- aggressive music, accompanied by Woodruff’s voice, which sound like background vocals on the latter track. The title track is an improvement over its preceding tracks, but with lyrics like “I hate my job and I hate my life / I hate every fucking thing in this world / I swear to god if I had a knife / I’d cut my heart out and give it to her”, the song is almost unlistenable.

“Stay Awake/Stay Alive” blends both the sound off Skeletons and the group’s older work, and actually leads to one of the better songs on the release. The group does not abuse the screaming, and let Woodruff’s vocals shine for one of the first times on Hate. “Oceans”, another standout song, features a more ambient sound, lead by Woodruff’s vocals. The song, once again, features the band’s rediscovered screaming, but this time around works in the songs favour. The EP ends with “Passengers” which features some of the best lyrics from the album.

Hate is really a bittersweet release. The return to the more aggressive sound is great in theory, but the end product doesn’t come out as great as expected. Also, the inclusion of the synthesizer in the background of some tracks will put off some listeners. Sure the release has its share of mediocre tracks, but the songs that are good should be placed in high-regard, like older favorites.

Rating: 3/5
Hate is available now on iTunes.

Tracklist:
1. There Was A Kid (Part 1)
2. Is This What You Wanted?
3. Divided
4. Hate
5. Wasted In NYC
6. Stay Awake/Stay Alive
7. Oceans
8. Four White Walls
9. Passengers

Standout Tracks: Oceans, Stay Awake/Stay Alive, Passengers