After a long hiatus, one of the most unique and underrated American post-metal bands have finally returned independently. A Hope For Home initially started out as a post-hardcore group – their first two albums Here, The End and The Everlasting Man were stylistically similar to Underoath. Later they branched out into post-metal on 2010’s Realis, and would explore this direction further with In Abstraction. Released in December 2011, In Abstraction marked the band’s final album before a long stretch of inactivity. At the time, their atmospheric, post-rock influenced sound was atypical for the label Facedown Records, known mainly for deathcore and metalcore bands like Impending Doom, War of Ages, and Nodes of Ranvier.
Spanning 32 minutes across just four tracks, the new album resumes where they left off. Elements of post-rock and post-hardcore remain present. Conceptually, Years of Silicon takes inspiration from a Jonathan Crary essay titled Scorched Earth, a critique of the current digital age and its impact on humanity. A Hope for Home is no stranger to philosophical lyrics, as previous albums attest.
Each of the four tracks here is distinct. “Futures/Past” builds to a crescendo and back down again. The title track “Years of Silicon” was released as a single to streaming services shortly before the album release date. This one is the heaviest and rawest, containing mostly screamed vocals and distortion. I found track three “Unlit Beacon” reminiscent of the Realis song “No Light”. This 12 minute song starts off as an ambient post-rock track before giving way to distorted guitars and screamed vocals around the 7:15 mark, finally fading into quiet ambience in the final two minutes. The closer “The Beach Beneath the Street” is the shortest track (though still over five minutes long). This song displays a nice duality of screamed vocals and singing over a post-rock backdrop.
The production from Tanner Morita sounds much more raw than on previous albums. Sonically, Years of Silicon captures the aesthetic and feel of a live performance. This is especially apparent in the acoustics on the quieter moments of the last two tracks, allowing me to visualize the band playing in a room. The bass and electric guitar are distorted and lo-fi, almost to the point of sounding like a black metal recording, which does lessen the impact of the climatic heavier moments. However, given the lyrical concept of Years of Silicon, the lack of sheen and polish in favor of an intimate, raw live sound comes across as a deliberate artistic statement.
Years of Silicon is available now on Bandcamp, where you can stream or purchase it before the band releases it to other platforms on September 9. A Hope For Home also runs their own podcast, which contains retrospectives of each release, band updates, and discussions with friends in other bands (including A Plea For Purging, Everything in Slow Motion, Sól, and others). Welcome back, A Hope for Home.