While they went 11 years between albums (finally releasing their comeback record Arbiter this summer), North Carolina post-hardcore/metalcore band Hopesfall’s influence on most bands of those genres today are strongly felt. Look at bands like Holding Absence, for instance. Rising acts like them are indebted to the sound that Hopesfall helped pioneer, especially on their 2002 album The Satellite Years. Hopesfall’s brand of post-hardcore has always been about incoporating their influences (post-rock, metal, shoegaze, even dream pop) into a concoction that involves lots of melodies and breathtaking choruses. Take the track “Tunguska” from Arbiter – what a huge track! Few bands can claim to writing such great melodies, and songs in general.
Their whole discography, while short, is certainly worth a listen today. Starting with 1999’s The Frailty Of Words, Hopesfall has released 5 full-lengths and an EP (which we’ll get to soon), all of which made large inroads on the cross-section of bright melodies with harsh riffs in the last 2 decades. Join us as we examine why Hopesfall is influential, and what makes them such a special band.
The Frailty Of Words (1999)
Though it may be a raw, primal form of who Hopesfall would eventually become, 1999’s The Frailty Of Words was certainly ahead of its time in 1999. Few bands were attempting this kind of melodic and metallic hardcore at the time, and while there is a stark difference between this record and its follow-up a couple years later, the riffs and melodies are very distinct. Especially album finale “The Broken Heart Of A Traitor” – during its 7+ minute runtime and when the song eventually fades out among a cacaphony of guitar, you realize that the best was yet to come.
No Wings To Speak Of (2002)
Alongside Cave In and a select few others, Hopesfall were one of a few bands that exhibited a strong shoegaze/space rock influence in their music. “The End Of An Era” may just be the best melodic metalcore song ever. Also, it’s the band’s last record before vocalist Jay Forrest joined the band for a certain album that is still considered legendary today. It’s amazing what just 4 tracks can do to change music forever.
The Satellite Years (2002)
Produced by Hum’s Matt Talbott (who also sings on “Escape Pod For Intangibles”), The Satellite Years was a watershed moment in the development of modern post-hardcore and metalcore. Intricate and delicate guitar melodies with the throat-shredding vocals of newcomer (at the time) Jay Forrest meshed extremely well with a huge space rock influence. In the latter way, it’s not unlike Cave In’s Jupiter. 16 years after its initial release, tracks like the emotionally-driven finale “The Bending”, the strong melodic riffs in “Decoys Like Curves”, and of course the career-defining song “Escape Pod For Intangibles” make this record a must-hear for any fan of the aforementioned subgenres. Few records in existence can genuinely be called this, but the best word to describe The Satellite Years is just this – beautiful.
A Types (2004)
A limb I’ve been dying on since its 2004 release is that Hopesfall’s A Types deserves a much better reputation than it gets now. While the record is certainly a shock, due to the dearth of metal and hardcore, the riffs and melodies are still there. They’re presented in an alt-rock fashion, though, which makes this a much more accessible record than any of their previous work. Seriously, the 1-2 punch of “The Ones” and “Manipulate The Eclipse” are big rock songs with tight riffs and spacey melodies that will get stuck in your head.
Magnetic North (2007)
Magnetic North should have been the record that put Hopesfall to a much wider audience. That didn’t happen, due to a myriad of factors, but it certainly had nothing to do with their performance here. Essentially the midpoint between their last two records, vocalist Jay Forrest really came into his own on this album, as his voice fades in and out with aplomb during both heavy (“RX Contender The Pretender”) and lighter fare (“I Can Do This On An Island”). We haven’t even discussed 2nd track “Swamp Kittens” yet, which features a heavy breakdown surrounded by guitar feedback which most bands could only dream of writing. Also, listen to “Secondhand Surgery”. Run, don’t walk.
Arbiter is the logical progression after 11 years in between albums for Hopesfall. Right alongside other brilliant comeback albums from Failure, Faith No More, and My Bloody Valentine, Arbiter is the sound of Hopesfall showing everyone out to update their sound for 2018, in a timeless way. The galloping opening riffs of “H.A. Wallace Space Academy” are chillingly effective, and so too is when the song pushes forward into Jay Forrest’s iconic vocals. Even more interesting is that Hopesfall really throw back to their roots on “Bradley Fighting Vehicle”, taking the best parts of A Types and showing a distinct ability to still re-emerge as a genre torchbearer. Fucking “Tunguska”, man. It’s a classic track. Really, it’s like they never left.