In 2001, hardcore and metal fans were introduced to the guitar crunch sound of Californian-bred band East West. Their national debut, The Light in Guinevere's Garden, put the guys on the map. In 2003, East West releases the more raw and rough Hope In Anguish, their second release on Floodgate Records. With more of a dark metal foundation, Hope opens up with "Vacant," a rough-around-the-edges rocker that mixes Mike Tubbs' haunting and angst-ridden vocals and rock harmonies. The song's mix is raw and somewhat underproduced which robs the power this song commands. But the eerie sounds of "Dwell" carry the torch as probably the most solid track on Hope. Every element to "Dwell" is perfect from the almost-disturbingly pained cries of Tubbs' vocals during the song's chorus to the creepy guitar rhythm during the verses. Tubbs vocals shine their brightest when his style tends to mimic that of Project 86's Andrew Schwab. "Drink Me" offers a more modern rock edge while "Seven" ventures into more melodic territory.
Lyrically, the album has a dark feel which is only emphasized by the music. However, on tracks like "For Every Wish," East West offers a little hope beneath the shadows of the subject's desperation. Musically and vocally, "For Every Wish" possesses a throwback feel to Holy Soldier's later days in the mid-90's and is easily another album highlight. Tubbs shreds his vocal chords on the hardcore "Brutally Wrong," while a more pop/rock feel is presented on "Envy" and a quasi-emocore sound is heard on "Zero Hour," thus proving the band's musical versatility.
While Hope In Anguish suffers from raw production at times which tends to detract from an otherwise powerful presence, East West's growth and musical maturity is more than evident the second time around. Fans of Project 86, P.O.D., Justifide, and pop-tinged hard music will want to check out this release.- Review date: 6/5/03, written by John DiBiase
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