LP Review; Convictions: “Hope for the Broken”

“Exodus, The End of Us” starts with a slowly growing semi-tone that soon spins into a gentle guitar riff that provides the audience with a simple melody to grasp their attention. The band continues to move their held tone up by half steps, while building on top of that initial melody. The next major voice that is heard is that of the percussion section. In this moment, the percussion section is adding heavy hits to off-set and line up certain moments of the musical line. This pattern repeats a few times before the band’s characteristic heavy vocals slams in to give the audience their first taste of vocals on this album. Throughout this first instance, the instrumentation is minimal to allow the audience to focus on the vocals; however, this doesn’t last for too long, for after a few seconds that instrumental part begins to embellish and subdivide on their previous musical ideas, which will give the selection a rather dense texture. As the band moves towards the middle of the track, the instrumentals and the vocalist pair together to work in a homorhythmic fashion, which leads the audience to the first breakdown of the album, for the pair works until a break of silence is heard. After this small moment of silence, the instrumentals fall down with aggression to act as a catalyst for the first major breakdown of the album. As the instrumentals keep the musical content moving forward, the vocalist sustains a long scream over top the breakdown process. Following the breakdown, the band moves back to their clustered instrumentals, which gives the audience several moments of dimension because of the amount of depth present. The band holds this true until the instrumentals wind down to give the audience a mixture of semi-tones, held like the ones at the beginning. This is a strong selection to kick things off with, for the band is giving their audience a sense of the characteristic sound at its core.

 “Deceptive Heart” starts with the end of the previous selection, for the band continues to sustain those semi-tones to introduce this work. This tone isn’t held much longer, for it was used simply to connect the two tracks. Almost directly out the gate, the instrumentals increase the tempo of the work significantly by giving the strings and even the percussion section a more rapid melodic idea. This continues to move in a rapid nature until the aggressive vocals add to the mix. When the vocals enter, the texture of the piece doesn’t drop; meaning, all of the instrumental parts are still equally contributing to the mix with the vocals just tagging along side them. However, when the vocals do enter, the instrumentals lay off their intensity by giving their audience a more dynamic musical idea instead of a more repetitive one like before. As the band moves through the first half of the selection, it is heard that the rapid notion in the instrumental part comes back here and there to keep the audience connected to the beginning motive of the track. It is also notable that the band, throughout the selection, provides moments of strategic silence. When they do so, they are able to add a huge amount of contrast to the work while making the section they are in more dramatic, which is most often heard when the silence is followed by single strums from the strings with tones that resonate in the upper register of the instrument. Right before the band is about to hit the chorus of the work, the instrumentation feels as if it comes to a ceasing moment, even though it doesn’t, and it feels as such, for the band provides their audience with clean vocals for the first time on this album. With that being said, the band strikes the audience with a beautiful chorus that is led by the clean vocalist. The vocal line within the chorus follows a gentle contour of the natural voice while being overly memorable, which will make it stick in the mind of the audience. Following the first run of the chorus, the band switches directly back to its alternative, aggressive side to give the audience another larger than life verse before moving back to the memorable chorus. Towards the end of the work, the band drops in instrumentation to provide only a chord to fulfil the harmony of the clean vocals, and a string line that interjects here and there to keep the pulse leaning forward. This line trails off slightly, and without a second to spare the aggressive vocals picks up the lyrical idea and takes the audience up fifteen percent to finish that thought. Through this, there are a few breaks; however, right before the ending lick of the track, there is a bigger piece of silence present that feels almost uncomfortable before the aggressive vocals, paired with the instrumentals, crash in with the title of the track to finish the work. This is a foreseen favorite of the album, for it is dynamically pleasing, and all around just a banger.

“Voices (They Want Me Dead)” starts with clean vocals from the very first second of this selection. The vocals that are present follow a simple melodic outline, and they are partnered with a string motive that is placed to compliment the different nooks of the vocal contour heard in this melody, which plays off well with the vocals that are acting as an echo. The band uses this introduction to quickly evolve into the first verse of the work. One would think they would just fall into it with a heavy lick like the previous tracks; however, in this instance, Convictions gives their audience a new approach. Once the vocals begin to trail off, the instrumentals provide a semi-tone that evolves into the foundation of the coming instrumental part, which leads the audience into aggressive vocals that are being voiced as if the vocalist is utilizing a more relaxed style of screaming, for he is using less intensity in this exact moment. As the track expands and moves forward, the intensity of the overall ensemble grows as one, for this is heard as the instrumental section begins to embellish on their simple lines while grinding into their own part. Additionally, during this evolution, the vocalist, slowly, allows his vocals to grow more and more aggressive in attack, which enhances the overall intensity of the track. As the band moves throughout this piece, it is heard that they have a small back and forth that is heard, for they bounce continuously back to moments of solemnity before chiming back to their more aggressive state. This helps to give the track a different dimension compared to the previous tracks while also showing the listeners what else they have to offer, musically speaking. As the band transitions into the latter half of their selection, it is heard that they enjoy toying with different groove centers, for they bounce between ones following a more rapid pulse and ones with a more relaxed undertone to it. As they move away from the middle chorus of the work, it is heard that the instrumentation drops, and all the listeners hear are whispers with a mixture of harmonies lying underneath them. This eventually leads the audience to a huge breakdown that is led by the voicing of a single passage by the aggressive vocalist followed by larger than life instrumentals that juxtapose the stated silence that help to heighten the moment. From here, the band transitions back to the chorus of the work, which they will rock until the end of the work with a slight alteration at the end, so that the band can give their audience a resolved ending that has a more aggressive front when comparing it to the content of the chorus.

“Divided” starts with three major hits throughout the instrumental section that soon splits to focus on a similar motive that is featured primarily in the string section. This beginning lick will become the foundation that will drive the bulk of the work, instrumentally speaking. The vocals enter in soon after the instrumentalist finalize and expand on this beginning groove. When the vocals enter initially, it is heard that they are resonating in the lower, grumbly rang that the vocalist utilizes throughout his aggressive, vocal technique. The vocal line, for the most part, works within a fixed range. This isn’t necessarily a bad strategy for this portion of the piece, for the instrumentals are adding and dropping in terms of texture almost constantly to give the audience juxtaposing moments of silence. This will allow the band to give their audience elaborate instrumentals while keeping the intensity of the vocal line pushing forward. Before the band slams into the chorus of the work, all of the instrumentals drop to allow the band to crash into a pre-chorus that will shock them when they eventually land on clean vocals. The clean vocals presented through the chorus are overly pleasing, and they give the audience a nice contour to hold onto before switching back to the more aggressive technique. As the band prepares to move towards the end of the selection, they insert two huge grand pauses while using the beginning three-hit motive to show the audience that they are about to throw down. After the second grand pause, the band drops in volume as they all begin to embellish on their personal musical idea. This comes together to slam into a homorhythmic downbeat, which gives the audience a solid breakdown to help bring them back to the chorus to end the work.

 “We Are Violence” starts with vocals from the very first second of the track. The vocals that are present from the very beginning are that of the aggressive vocal type. Unlike the previous selection, the vocalist is providing more of a spectrum with his aggressive vocals, but it isn’t anything overly vast either. Throughout this beginning musical idea, the instrumentation is rather scarce. This allows the vocals to shine in almost isolation before the first verse truly comes to light. The instrumental part that is presented throughout the beginning of the work is that of something that sounds as if it is cascading upwards or downwards. This is because it sounds like the instrumentals are continuously layering new material on top of one another while keeping the texture rather consistent. As the band lands on the first verse, they give the audience something that has yet to be heard: a verse led by the clean vocalist. The clean vocal line is complimented by dashes of the aggressive vocals from an interjecting standpoint, but for the most part, they are taking the lead. This is a nice shift for the album, for the audience has already become fixated with their heavy style, which isn’t a bad thing; however, this shows their listeners that they can give them more than just a top to bottom heavy album. As the band moves through another strong chorus and to the second verse, it is heard that the band plays with more of their characteristic aggression this time around. They are able to do so by digging into their instrumentals while playing with the mixture of a steady groove and one that lives in the half-time groove center. Before the band moves to the downward slope of the track, they include a moment where the aggressive vocals are presenting these musical sentences to the audience with little instrumentation. With each sentence, the band is building on their musical tension. This is strong for the artist, for this eventually builds and crashes into one of their bigger breakdowns of the album up until this point. Following this breakdown, the band seamlessly results back to the chorus of the work, which is what will take the audience to the end.

 “Feel Alive” starts with what appears to be the rustling of wind. This rests by itself only momentarily before the string section joins to add a small musical motive underneath it. After these two have briefly remained with the audience, the clean vocalist enters to give the listeners a somber lyrical idea. Throughout the beginning of this track, the band utilizes a significant amount of echo that is primarily heard after the first pronunciation of a vocal idea. This gives the work a layered effect that has yet to be heard on this album. As the band transitions well into the track, the instrumental section binds in to join the mix to give the audience larger than life instrumentals. What is significant about this portion of the track is that for the first time on this album when the instrumentalists dig into their techniques, the vocals remain clean. This gives the audience something completely different, and it will definitely stick out to them upon their first listen. The music that is being heard drives through a consistent groove that utilizes small moments of silence to help finish each musical idea before venturing to the next. Before looking to the second verse of the work, the audience gets their first snippet of the band’s characteristic vocals before returning back to the standard of this piece. In the second verse, the band gives the audience their aggressive vocals but almost through a spoken-word type feel. This helps to keep the vulnerability of the track solid as the band toys with their different techniques. Following the second chorus, the band gets a third versus provided by heavy instrumentals with the aggressive vocals leading the charge. As the band goes to lead the audience towards the end of the work, they give the audience an instrumental interlude with faint vocal interjections that places focus on a solo string motive. This gives the audience time to focus on the instrumentals before returning to the well-received chorus. This is a foreseen favorite of the album because of its character compared to the other tracks.

 “False Witnesses” starts with a slowly growing semi-tone that appears to electronically surge as it begins to evolve into a louder dynamic. As this tone is building, the vocalist provides a lyrical line from what sounds like its miles away, for the clarity of the vocals are blurred. This exact build holds firm for quite some time until, within a split second, the band switches to an overly heavy style. This is heard through the instrumentals playing long, heavy attacks in the lower part of their register as the aggressive vocals reach the depths of the vocalist’s range. As the band moves to this new approach, the instrumentals then split to give elaborate instrumental motives that link up well to drive a continuous groove that helps to link up the aggressive nature of the work. Out of nowhere, the band transitions to a chorus that works with light instrumentals and a clean vocal line. This is a nice juxtaposition for the track, which will give the audience a nice sense of contrast for the work as a whole. Moving from this, the band moves directly back to the heavier approach, which soon spins to what sounds like a heavy instrumental and vocal breakdown in the middle of the track. This is achieved through the altering of instrumentation as they use interjections of silence to make the aggressive vocals pop. This meshing of a middle-man breakdown acts as the second verse of the work, for it transitions directly back to the chorus. Following the second run of the chorus, a semi-third verse is heard before the band, and it to spins into a mini breakdown. This mini breakdown is short-lived, but it acts as a good link back to the chorus of the selection, which is how the audience believes this track is going to end; rather, right as one would think this song would finish, the band throws in another tiny breakdown to close things up.

“The Storm Will Pass” features Chris Roetter and starts with a loud crash from the instrumental section as they are led by a lower bass timbre. The first melodic idea that the audience hears pulls from a grungier influence, for the tone colors of the basslines resonates to those that follow similar techniques of Nirvana or Alice in Chains. This holds firm with the audience momentarily, so that the general foundation of the work is set. Once that is solid, the aggressive vocals join the party to give the audience a lyrical idea that spans a dynamic spectrum in terms of approach as well as range. To further, the vocalist is practically stretching his own vocal-techniques to compete with the larger than life instrumentals that are sizing up while he screams. Throughout the first verse, the band plays with their strategic use of silence to add subtle but large juxtapositions to allow certain moments in each lyrical sentence to stick out to the audience. As they execute this, they are able to alter some of their instrumental motives to give the audience something that is closely related but also something new. Before the band falls into the chorus of the work, the instrumentation basically drops out completely to allow the audience to simmer unsettled until the clean vocalist comes to light to give the listeners a memorable and nice change of pace. Following the chorus, the band immediately switches back to their aggressive front to give the audience another grand verse. In the middle of the track, the band gives their audience a subtle breakdown that features the title of the album. This breakdown happens out of the blue, and it is heightened by the layering of instrumentation as heavy hits scan across the ensemble. This will lead the audience back to the verse, which will revert them back to the gentle chorus of the work. As this track begins to come to an end, the band brings the instrumentals back down before the entire ensemble slams into a third verse led by the aggressive vocals. This verse gives the band another opportunity to completely grind into their heavy attacks as they keep the momentum moving up until the very end.

“Reckless” starts with a groove from the very first second of the work. This is established by the progressive percussion motive that focuses on the emphasis of the first beat in each musical phrase while elaborating a motive on the following beats. The string section soon accompanies the percussion section to give a fuller texture until the aggressive vocals join the mix. When they enter, they enter almost in an abrupt fashion; meaning, the instrumentals and the vocals don’t perfectly align in that moment, which makes the track sound more ‘reckless’, if you will. Soon after the band messes with the symmetrical nature of the piece, all of the musical parts begin to come together to create a whole, musical idea. This is enforced by the back and forth between vocals that are talk/screamed and those that are purely screamed. This is complimented by a thicker texture, which will help to heighten the vocals since the instrumentation is not backing down. Like the previous tracks, this selection gives the audience a nice little melody to attach to as the band lands on the chorus of the work. Throughout this chorus, it is heard that the instrumentation does back off slightly to allow the vocals to shine.  This shift doesn’t last long, for as the band moves back to the verse format, the instrumentation begins to build back up to its normal state. Once there, it is heard that the band provides moments of homorhythmic unison to allow certain moments of the song to stick out, which will provide an enormous amount of contrast when looking at the piece as a whole. As the band moves out of the second chorus, it is heard that the band follows similar in-unison techniques to help slam into one of the biggest breakdowns of the album. This breakdown focuses on the relationship between the vocals and the instrumentals, and how the two work hand-in-hand to give a grandeur sound. After this breakdown, the band results back to the chorus, which will take the listeners to the end of the selection. This is a foreseen favorite off the album because it is a different representation of a metal work that goes above and beyond to give a solid metal riff.

“To Sleep is to Feel” features J.T. Woodruff and starts with a pumping tempo from the very beginning. This is enforced by the rapid subdivision provided by the string section as the percussion section lays the foundation for the work while keeping the steady pulse firm. As the band plays with this motive over and over, it is heard that the strings continuously shift back and forth between dissonant and consonant chords. This allows the audience to go back and forth between tension and relief before the hard-hitting material of the track occurs. This motive will sit with the audience for a small bit of time before the first round of vocals appear. When the vocals come to light, the instrumentals semi-morph into the instrumentals by providing a small, quick warp of sound that leads the audience seamlessly to the first round of vocals, which happen to resonate in an aggressive manner. The first verse doesn’t sit with the audience for very long, for before you know it, you’re at a heightened moment that is led by the clean vocals, which just happens to be the chorus of the work. The second verse pulls from both of the aggressive techniques that the band utilizes throughout the album. They are able to switch back and forth quickly to give the audience a dynamic verse without it sounding choppy. Additionally, throughout the second verse, the instrumental section begins to embellish on their simple subdivisions to give the listeners something more intricately pleasing. Following the second run of the chorus, the band splits into an instrumental feature that has the same materials repeated over and over again as the general pulse of the work remains consistent and is pushed forward slightly. This remains strong for a few seconds before the clean vocalist joins the instrumental ensemble with a melodic line that fits right overtop their motive. After this musical thought is finished, the aggressive vocalist enters in a similar way as he did at the beginning of the track. The band provides a quick back and forth between vocal-types before randomly moving to an acoustic led section before spinning into an aggressive ending, which finishes with a cute little breakdown.

“Reverie” starts with faint hits from the instrumental section that are heard at a distance. These hits sound with a gentle release, which gives the listeners a sense of ease as they continue to progress through the beginning of this selection. This remains steady with a growing sense of consistency as the instrumental ensemble begins to add more hits per musical phrase. This helps to keep the piece moving forward while retaining that somber sensation. Once the band reaches the middle of piece, a piano timbre is heard. Once the piano enters, it provides the audience with a simple melodic line that glistens overtop the foundation that the instrumental section has set. The piano melody fades in and out to give the work dimension as the band gives the audience a gentle rise and eventually fall to end the work. This work is used as transition material, which is a nice addition to the album as a whole, for it gives the listeners the opportunity to just relax.

 “Never Wanted It This Way” starts with silence that quickly morphs into a gentle melody led by the clean vocalist. This initial melody is featured almost in isolation with faint chords accompanying underneath it. As this melody is relayed to the audience, it is heard in an echoed effect, which will give off a mystical type feel. This melody begins to fade; however, before it fades to nothing, the aggressive vocalist simply jumps in with an overly huge melodic line as the instrumentals crash into a characteristic build for a verse that the band would normally utilize. Throughout the verse, the instrumentals keep the groove of the work consistent, and they are able to do so while keeping the pulse of the work steady as embellishments are included here and there to enhance the overt nature of the track. The chorus of the work brings the clean vocalist back to the party, while he gives the audience a nice moment before slamming back into a huge verse that includes a few small moments of solace before giving the audience an elaborate feature by the instrumental section. This feature allows the instrumentalists to grind into their own parts before lightening up as the chorus is approached for a second time. Following the second chorus, the band switches to a motive used by most metal bands where they layer each instrumentalist on top of one another to increase the overall intensity of the track. This continues to build as the vocals add some color tones to the top. This will eventually lead to a grand pause followed by another larger breakdown. This breakdown is minimalistic in terms of instrumental content; however, the content that is present hits all at once to give the audience one huge, cohesive, bold statement. This breakdown will taper to take the audience to the end of the track.

 “Hope for the Broken” starts with a gentle strum from the string section that the band allows to ring in the air before another instrumental tone is voiced. After this first tone, the string section spins into a varied melodic idea that gives the audience a simple rise and fall before the entire instrumental ensemble joins the fun in a heightened manner. When the full ensemble joins the mix, they hold that original motive firm as they diminish to allow the clean vocalist to shine as he takes the listeners through the first verse. The instrumentals that are present in this moment are used solely to support the vocal line, which enhances the graceful nature of the moment that the band has created through this first verse. As the band approaches and lands on the chorus of the work, the aggressive vocalist comes into the light to give the audience a passionate rendition of the same shape of the vocal line that the clean vocalist has set up throughout the beginning verse. The second verse and chorus were similar to the first runs; however, it is notable that the band has some altering manipulations of sounds throughout to give the audience almost electronic surges here and there to add depth to the track. As the band begins to work towards the end of the selection, all of the vocals drop out as well as the majority of the instrumentation to allow the piano timbre to shine with a few block chords holding the foundation underneath it. This brings the audience back to their somber state momentarily before the band, as a unit, slams back into the elaborate chorus of this selection. This run of the chorus evolves into a huge instrumental feature that will drive until all of the instrumentation eventually drops out to leave the piano to take the audience to the end of it all. This was a fantastic last selection for the album, for it provided nice contrast throughout, it gave the audience both vocal styles the band is known for, and it ended with a final sense of closure.

 Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 5 out of 5 stars. The first reason I landed on this score is because each track on this album represents the band’s sound to a tee, and it gives the audience a dynamic balance of their over the top aggressive sound with solid instrumentals to back it up. The other reason I landed on this score is because this is one of the best representations of a metal/hardcore album that is innovative, fresh, but also holds true to the albums in this genre that have stood the test of time. This album, in general, is absolutely fantastic; thus, if you’re a fan of metal music, it’s a must! Nice work!

*”Hope for the Broken” was released on June 1, 2018 through InVogue Records.

 

 

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