Hail The Sun
(Equal Vision Records)
There is no doubt of where Hail The Sun’s roots lie. Their frantic post-hardcore styling bleeds through their blistering talent, re-positioning the likes of Alesana, Chiodos and other bands that dominated the 2000s into the forefront of listeners minds. Culture Scars is a step up in production from what the band has released before, more vocally prominent and complex in their compositions. This is thanks to Mike Watts — a producer who has worked with the biggest of names riding the same genre (Blessthefall The Dear Hunter). With Culture Scars, the beauty of the California quartet shines in their gut wrenching dynamics, accessibility and overall care to their progress.
That essential care to the louder vocals gives songs a bit more urgency to their delivery. Donovan Molero’s vocals ascend over every part, cutting through the loud and weaving melodies through the soft. It’s noticeable immediately on “Paranoia” exactly what Hail The Sun’s recipe to Culture Scars is. Giant hooks are stacked back to back and on top of different instruments fighting for the space to breathe. Every refrain finds giant guitar chords, octave movements and that nasally roar from Molero above it all. It’s a recipe that calls for listeners to find something to latch onto. The push/pull of Culture Scars has listeners pushing their voices to try and reach Molero’s range while pulling them into their quiet, reflective penances. The refrains in the opener are instinctively infectious, begging for you to revisit them as often as possible.
These introspective moments throughout the lyrics have been the narrative of plenty of acts, but with Molero’s touching vocals it helps erase everything except the comforting familiarity. “Father if you are the one the apple fell so close too, I understand the things you did,” croons Molero on the sincere, “Words Of Gratitude (Parents).” The voice is thoughtful, toeing the line of constant wonder if we have let our parents down. The ability to scale these questions into larger than life hooks with attentive care to the tone of each song grips your emotions and shakes them awake. Every rise and fall of Molero’s corruptible monologue on “The Fun In Dysfunction” shatters with your own destructive triggers lying dormant. The song unleashes the first furious bite of Molero’s vocals, turning into a raucous of harsh screams above intricate, ever changing drums. Culture Scars excels as a whole with its catchy way of twisting songs together from various parts; like building anything from scratch with a shaky framework. The end product is glossy and something palpable to be proud of.
Hail The Sun’s subversive dynamics help keep the songs contrast of utter chaos and controlled vocal spouts — very much like being in an indestructible shelter during a tornado. The fear is lurking right above you, but the calm of safety that is instilled in you dichotomizes the phenomena, searching for beauty in the wrong places. That’s where this band are triumphant, instead of floundering in their hooks they sandwich them between atypical time signatures and forceful progressions. “The People That Protect Us” is a frantic burst of energy between the fiery guitar licks and the crashing drum fills. Closing track, “Doing The Same Thing and Expecting Different…” rides through jazz styled, silky movements before exploding into a final chorus of voices to wrap listeners in, one final time.