Fresh from the vibrant Reading scene, melodic hardcore quintet High Hopes have their sophomore album ‘Sights and Sounds’ in the palm of their hands, and what a reliable, passionate pair of hands they are. While this record won’t be the most diverse album you’ll hear all year, the material definitely deserves to stand out from a large chunk of the current scene.
The spoken word intro ‘Pale Blue Dot’ leads us nicely into the opening track ‘The Callout’ in just under 60 seconds. This first track bleeds aggression thanks to some fierce and raging vocals from Nick Brooks and some swift, energetic and solid musicianship from all involved. This continues through ‘Revelation’ which blends more catchy hooks with some satisfying grooves and some guitar work reminiscent of Scale the Summit. Elements like this I find quite compelling, mainly because High Hopes are amongst a scene that is very saturated (in the UK at least), and it can be very difficult for bands to differentiate themselves from others, however ‘Sights and Sounds’ is a monumental effort to do just that.
With a consistent flow and, despite a couple of monotonous sections, it offers a diverse spectrum of melodic hardcore. ‘The Greater Plan’ is one of my favourites, offering some straight-up hardcore alongside beautiful melodic sections with a rare, extended clean vocal section to bring it full circle.
The emotional quality really comes out in the title closer, which delivers a more distorted vocal approach accompanied by a very post-rock ambient guitar lead, closing out with a solo piano piece that rounds off the album nicely.
Overall, ‘Sights and Sounds’ is an impressive offering and I’m sure it will elevate High Hopes even further this year. Besides a few elements of monotony and the almost unnecessary interlude track ‘MLK’, the band are holding their heads above the water of saturation. This is melodic hardcore done correctly and cleverly arranged.
’Sights and Sounds’ by High Hopes is out now on Victory Records.
Words by Andy May.