Reinvention is a hard thing for bands to get right. Plenty of bands try to change up their sound and often with mixed results. Some bands won’t go far enough with their new direction, whilst others completely lose touch with the band they were that fans loved. HUNDREDTH come dangerously close to the latter on Rare. This is a bold and drastic reinvention for them that sees them move far away from hardcore. This could have gone very wrong for them but fortunately the change feels like a natural one.
The most significant change to their sound is Chadwick Johnson‘s vocals. Whereas before they were almost entirely screamed, this time round it’s all sung. On top of that they are soaked in reverb, an effect that is initially jarring but fits the overall sound of the album. With these sort of vocals the album starts to take on a more shoegaze influenced sound. That’s not to say this is entirely a shoegaze album as there are elements of alternative rock as well, but it’s clear that genre was a huge influence when recording.
The vocals lend a dreamlike quality to the album that wouldn’t have been possible with screams. The album has a very melancholic sound which again the change in vocal style plays a huge part in. Again this just wouldn’t have been possible if HUNDREDTH hadn’t changed things up. Whereas before the screams had a real passionate and uplifting feel to them, now things just sound bleaker.
So what is it that keeps Rare from just sounding like a knock off of bands like TITLE FIGHT or TURNOVER? It’s largely down to the music and the slight retention of some melodic hardcore elements. The guitars and drums still have plenty of kick to them. There is an aggression to the music that is rarely found on shoegaze albums that stops Rare from sounding like its playing catch up to the rest of the genre. There’s no chugging breakdowns present but there’s slight nods to hardcore. The crunchy guitars featured on lead single Neurotic or the opening riff to Disarray show the band still want to bring forward some of their previous sound.
The album’s biggest weakness is that it just starts to run out of steam towards the end. It ends up feeling a little on the long side by the time the last song rolls around. The last few songs do start to blur together, but as a first attempt this is still impressive. There’s still a few highlights later in the album, with penultimate track Youth being one of the standouts but the second half of the album does feel a bit weaker.
With a bit of trimming this album could have been something special. But as it stands, HUNDREDTH have delivered a bold reinvention showing an exciting future for the band. It’s clear they felt hardcore was limiting them and wanted to break away. This album deserves attention for trying something new with mostly great results. Whether this is a permanent change remains to be seen, but the future looks very interesting for HUNDREDTH.
Rare is set for release on June 16th via Hopeless Records.
Like HUNDREDTH on Facebook.