Hail The Sun

Culture Scars

Written by: TL on 09/07/2016 13:26:26

"Progressive post-hardcore". It sounds like a pretty small niche of a genre, which it is, but it has been a relatively densely populated one in recent years, and yet one band that has stood out as a group that deserved more attention, is Hail The Sun, from Chico, California. Their debut full length "Wake", released on Blue Swan Records in 2014, was very good, enough so that the band got to strike a new deal with Equal Vision Records for a follow-up, which is here now in the form of last month's ten track album "Culture Scars".

The group's style can best be compared to Circa Survive, Mars Volta or Dance Gavin Dance: It's fast-paced, very technical and fronted by high, strained vocals, sung in this case by the band's drummer, the multi-talented Donovan Melero. Compared to the mentioned bands, Hail The Sun perhaps has less of an instantly recognisable atmosphere to their sound, yet they have excelled regardless with a more - for lack of a better description; 'purely musical' - approach, letting their acrobatic yet cohesive compositions carry the day.

On "Culture Scars" things are unchanged at first glance, but closer inspection yields the impression that the production feels a bit less spacious, making Hail The Sun sound even cleaner than before: Theirs sound like electrical instruments without noticeable digital bullshit or superfluous ambience coated on. Moreover, things seem to have become a bit catchier, by the conventional way of the chorus structures framing things a bit more tightly, at least early on the record.

Somehow, though, there's a prevailing feeling when you listen through the record, that things aren't balanced quite as well as last time around. The band wants to dazzle you with sparkling guitar wizardry and abrupt tempo changes, as well as with overtly socio-critical lyricism from the sceptical mind of Melero. Yet the constructions often feel a bit jagged, like they get in each other's way here, where on "Wake" they lined up more nicely, sort of like a magic carpet ride where you soared and dove from one movement into the next.

In this way, the record loses out to its elder brother, especially towards the end, but with that being said, there's definitely some delicious signs of the band's talent on display. The single "Entertainment Lies" has a signature riff for the ages, while "The 'Fun' In Dysfunction" has a nicely escalating guitar melody for a signature, and "Body Damage" is allowed to expand a bit more freely, showing that Hail The Sun do not, in fact, need to force more poppy structures on their proggy ideas - they're well-versed enough in making cohesive, freely evolving progressions that they should arguably just do that.

Overall then, Hail The Sun have once more dispensed some stuff that's absolutely as impressive technically as one could have expected, and they continue to sound far less chaotic and random than many of their colleagues in the nearby genre landscape. But that being said the album doesn't become that spiritually engaging and rallying wake-up call one could have hoped for. It feels a bit too busy, a bit too cold, a bit too constructed and a bit too compressed.


Download: Body Damage, The 'Fun' In Dysfunction
For The Fans Of: Circa Survive, The Mars Volta, A Lot Like Birds, The Fall Of Troy, Dance Gavin Dance
Listen: facebook.com/hailthesun

Release date 17.06.2016
Equal Vision Records

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