Ignore the title, sort of. We had to reel you in somehow. Yet somehow, it does apply to this record.
Listeners of the more melodic need to strongly consider Hopesfall’s spacey metalcore masterpiece The Satellite Years as a record that helped to define multiple genres popular today. They were, and are, a pioneering band that merges shoegaze, ambient sections, space rock vibes, and noisy, emotionally gratifying metallic hardcore. Few bands approach their level of influence in music – remember that time every local band wanted to start an ambient hardcore project in 2012ish? I’m looking at you, Lead Hands/Decoder and Being As An Ocean.
Anyway, they finally decided to get things going again with a new record, their first since an initial breakup a decade sgo. Arbiter is one of the most impressive comeback albums in recent history. In any hardcore/metal subgenres, actually. There is precious little to nitpick here in terms of mediocre songs or nonessential noodle riffs. No, Arbiter takes influence from all of their records, maintaining their core formula, but also adding jaggedly hook-filled sections (hooks come from pop – remember) that constantly demand you pay attention to tracks like “Faint Object Camera”.
Honestly, this is on par with something like Hum, Failure, Deftones, Cave In, or even the underrated Swervedriver. Hopesfall have their own defined sound, though. They turned melodic hardcore and heavy metalcore on its head when they were just starting out, because that’s not something any bands at the time were doing much of. Tracks like the fantastic “H.A. Wallace Space Academy” simply bleed with the same urgency Magnetic North did, and with a massive breakdown that builds up well. It’ll take your breath away.
So too do brilliantly effective songs like “Tunguska”. One of the best songs the band have written to date, it bears a resemblance to “Manipulate The Eclipse” from A-Types, yet maintains the noisy, borderline trademarkable post-hardcore sound they helped to pioneer.
The one possible flaw Arbiter may have is a lack of viciously heavy songs like the old days. Do remember they’re not a new band anymore, though. And even the slower songs, like the mostly instrumental “Aphelion”, are more than engaging enough to not make you consider skipping over them.
Arbiter is a hell of an impressive musical comeback from a band most thought would never reunite. Bearing just as much influence as similar bands like Poison The Well and Misery Signals, Hopesfall have achieved what few thought would ever happen – an urgently important rock record that blazes new trails, too. I guess you could say they’re Drowning (in) Potential once again.