After retiring the label in 2006, Facedown Records has made the decision to revive their Strike First imprint as a means to promote new and upcoming metal and hardcore acts. The first band to get a shot at success on the label is the Illinois-based progressive metal outfit Hope For The Dying, and interested listeners now have a chance to explore their brand new self-titled seven-track debut EP.
The EP starts with the seven-minute track "City Of Corpses." This standout effort essentially represents the entire album as a whole in one track, displaying elements that will be repeated on the next six songs. Listeners will be unsurprised to hear the chugging riffs and pounding double bass expected in modern metal. More interesting are the fast riffs that are sprinkled throughout the album that do, indeed, evoke images of classic metal acts. Also on display throughout the album are the occasional piano interludes, classical guitar, and even some opening synth on "Our Fallen Comrades."
Josh Ditto's screaming lead vocals fall firmly in the middle of modern metal territory. They are sufficiently passionate and vary in intensity depending on the moment. Additionally, in tracks such as "City Of Corpses" and "Into Darkness We Ride," Ditto contrasts his screams with choruses of clean vocals that are possibly the album's biggest highlight. The previously mentioned influences of classic metal bands are seen most clearly in these soaring choruses which help to give Hope For The Dying a truly unique sound.
The lyrics on Hope For The Dying address topics from depravity in "City Of Corpses" to the ungodly desire for revenge in "A Beautiful Day For Vengeance." In the latter track, Ditto echoes the Apostle Paul's words in Romans 12 as he screams "My brothers, I beg of you, do not seek your own vengeance. My brothers, do not be overcome with evil, but triumph..." In "Where We Are Going We Don't Need Roads," the band chants "When we see the truth we will be set free." These lyrics show an admirable depth that any Christian can appreciate.
There is a lot of pressure on upcoming metal bands to provide a unique sound to separate them from the pack. Hope For The Dying certainly does not redefine any definitions, but they have a passion, depth, and creativity that is worth keeping an eye on. In conclusion, with this EP, the band has given any metal fan a compelling reason to check them out both now and in the future.- Review date: 11/24/08, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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