Released: 2006, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The past two years have been an extravaganza for metalcore fans. The market is so glutted with nameless, faceless bands who are all churning out virtually the same album with the same riffs and the same breakdowns that it amazes me how bands continue to sell. The absolutely endless string of bands capitalizing on the whole “hardcore-meets-Gothenburg-riffs” scene has really amounted to being the “flavor of the week.” As a reviewer, it is even more difficult to come up with words to describe the music without repeating oneself. In the case of If Hope Dies’ LIFE IN RUIN, this is much of the same-old-same-old as the lads from Auburn, New York (that’s Manowar country!) crank out the same by-the-numbers metalcore that the other 8,462 bands who have released metalcore records in the last two years have done. Some put a fresh spin on things (Darkest Hour) but most, like If Hope Dies, can be ushered into the cesspool with the rest of the interchangeable and forgettable bands. Does LIFE IN RUIN deliver the metal? Indeed, but there is nothing here to distinguish If Hope Dies from the rest of the pack and that is what gets tiring.
“Burned Out” features some interesting drum effects and the production of Jason Suecof (God Forbid, Trivium) is thick and rich. A fat bottom end and clean guitar sounds make LIFE IN RUIN a real pleasure to listen to. “Anthem For The Unemployable” has breakout potential with clean vocals in the chorus and creamy Gothenburg dual melodic leads from Thad Jackson and Brian Ward. Sounds an awful lot like God Forbid, doesn’t it? Up until “The Ultimate Nullifier,” just about every song starts with an identical riff and follows exactly the same uninspired structure. In fact, I found myself having to go back and listen again and again to try to tell the songs apart. I never could and the sameness of these songs is as stale as yesterday’s donuts. “The Ultimate Nullifier” does cause some ruckus, though, with a stellar vocal performance from Alan French backed by some sizzling riffs. Brandon Wakeham and Gary Mann also gel into a tight rhythm section here, with thunderous bass groove and oodles of double bass.
If Hope Dies has some amusing song titles (“Water Into Wine Cooler” and “Some Skynyrd” are prime examples) but nothing else really sets them apart or makes me take notice through course of this CD. NOTHING! By no means am I singling out If Hope Dies as the proverbial straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back either, because LIFE IN RUIN is a decent album. It’s simultaneously heavy and catchy, drops a mess of infectious riffs and rocks your socks off…but I can generalize the same thing about ten other metalcore albums I have heard in the past month alone. The problem I have is that with so much to choose from for the consumer and with so many metalcore CDs trickling into my mailbox these days, it really becomes frustrating to see the term pop up again and again. Up until about a year ago, I considered myself a major fan but the utter deluge of metalcore has just become ridiculous. It’s too bad that 90% of these bands will be lucky to crank out two or maybe three albums before the next fad hits and they are dropped like yesterday’s news but this will be the reality. Enjoy metalcore while it lasts because bands like If Hope Dies should be getting the bum’s rush pretty damn soon unless they can add some pizzazz to a sagging genre.
KILLER KUTS: “Burned Out,” “Anthem For The Unemployable,” “The Ultimate Nullifier”