6/17/2013

REVIEW: The Color Morale - Know Hope


Genre: Post-Hardcore/Metalcore
Label: Rise
Date of Release: March 26, 2013

EMPOWERING POST-HARDCORE


If you’re in search of energetic melodic metal or hardcore, then there is a good chance you will look no further than The Color Morale. They are a post-hardcore group formed in 2005 from Rockford, Illinois, and their two full-length releases, “We All Have Demons” from 2009 and “My Devil in Your Eyes” from 2011, are filled with that type of drive. Both records were enjoyable, but in 2013, the band may have put out their best yet in their third full-length release “Know Hope.”

The musicianship in this record is very good. The vocals are especially powerful, in terms of both the aggressive and clean sides. There is so much energy put into both areas without sounding overdone that the singing overall becomes one of the record’s grandest highlights. They could have used a tad more low-pitched growls like in the first track “Burn Victims” for more variety, but with how well the vocals are performed, that can easily be overlooked. The guitars and drums are also strong elements of the record’s musicianship. Along with the singing, the guitars deliver sonic melodies throughout the record, and almost every single one of them sends chills down the spine. As for the drums, they sound very energetic as well, having a simple structure, but are complex enough to keep listeners invested. All in all, the musicianship is performed very nicely in this record.

On top of the stellar musicianship, the production is yet another great feature of “Know Hope.” It makes the music sound very crisp, with every element of the musicianship standing out as a force of its own, while still sounding focused. However, the mixing simultaneously allows for some atmosphere, because of how resonant the vocals and instruments are. This allows for the audience to become engaged in both the solidity and the large atmosphere that the album brings, rendering the music as all the more enjoyable. All in all, the production and mixing are very well done here.

“Know Hope” is a record consisting of a vigorous blend of melodic metal and hardcore, similar to the style of the band’s previous releases. However, unlike before, this album seems to be heading for a more anthem-like sound. This is a step forward for the band’s music, because there are so many hooks, choruses, and melodies that grip the audience upon arrival that the record becomes a very compelling listen. One example of this is the chorus from the album’s first single “Learned Behavior,” which is so powerful in both the buildup to it and its sound, that it is borderline impossible to get it out of your head within the first listen. Along with that, “Know Hope” is quite a well-rounded and dynamic album. It can balance between light melodies and heaviness, making way for quite a diverse release. The only real issue with this album is that the music may be a tad generic for the post-hardcore genre, but there is so much to indulge in in this regard that it should not be passed up. From the structures to the dynamicity to the hooks, this album succeeds in all these respects.

Aside from the music, this album also possesses some great lyrics. In fact, these may be some of the most powerful lyrics ever to be found in any music album. The reason for this is because the messages behind them are very personal with internal struggles, as revealed by vocalist Garrett Rapp*, and the way they are written is in both a dark and positive light. One of the highlights of these lyrics is part of the chorus from “Learned Behavior:” “Sometimes it’s good to build up walls, not to keep anyone out, but to see who cares enough to knock them down.” The song “In Light in Me” also has a brief fourth-wall moment describing the development of the album, and the way the lyrics build up to a truthful yet inspiring message towards the end is just great. While the lyrics can be inspiring and uplifting, there is enough heaviness and honesty to it so that they can become more relatable and engaging for the audience. As a result, “Know Hope” is an album praiseworthy not just for the music itself, but for the compelling lyrical content as well.

“Know Hope” is an incredibly potent post-hardcore album, and it’s clear that The Color Morale has come a long way since “We All Have Demons.” In fact, it is safe to say that this is the group’s best effort yet. The musicianship is excellent, with the bold-sounding production and mixing also doing it justice, and the music itself is so invigorating in its melodies and heaviness that it’s rather hard to not put songs on repeat. On top of all this, the lyrics are also wonderful, with such potency and inspiration to make them some of the most powerful lines one can read or hear being screamed or sung. Overall, this is a stellar hardcore piece, and anyone in search of melodic and energetic music in general really should give it a try. “Know Hope” is a strong album from all sides.

Score: 9/10 (Excellent)

*On Rise Record's Youtube channel, Garrett has an artist profile video about his influences behind the album, and how his experiences over the years has affected not only his music, but himself as well. It's a powerful and inspirational video, and you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02SmNz3PLWE