The Color Morale – Know Hope
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: March 26th 2013
I’m almost 20-years-old, and in all honesty, I’ve stopped keeping up with post-hardcore, metalcore, or “scenecore” as some people call it. No, this review on IL post-hardcore/metalcore outfit The Color Morale’s third record Know Hope will not be a negative one, but I will say that I don’t quite care for the genre anymore. Do I want to say I’ve outgrown it? Yes, and no. Yes, because I feel as though this genre is mainly targeted to teenagers younger than myself, and for good reason. “Edgy” lyrics with profanities, and breakdowns galore litter the genre, and not to mention, “hawt” frontmen as well. The Color Morale has always been a step ahead of the rest. I discovered this band in 2009 when they released debut record We All Have Demons, and I loved it. It was a bit different from the average scenecore or post-hardcore of the time, and it mainly in part of vocalist Garrett Rapp’s vocals. His screams were ferocious, but his clean vocals are angelic.
Four years have gone by, and while I can’t say I don’t like this band anymore, I haven’t kept up with them either. Their sophomore record kind of flew past me, but I heard a lot of good things about this record, despite not hearing a single track from it. I didn’t think I’d even pick it up, so I just didn’t really listen to anything from it. I did notice a lot of comments from people saying that Rapp’s screams were different, and it made me interested to listen to it, because I wanted to know how different they were. Well, I was quite impressed, because his screams sound a lot more natural on this record than their prior records, and it’s even more a nice contrast because his clean vocals are just as great, and haven’t really changed. That’s great news, because this is one thing that sets this band apart, as well as sets most bands apart in the genre. As with a genre like pop-punk, the vocals are the main attractions for most of these bands, and that’s not a bad thing, but Rapp’s vocals are definitely streets ahead of most of his peers. Lyrically, this record also shines as well. There are a few places that really hit me in the feels, and it’s not often I say that, because as I said, I’ve kind of outgrown the genre. Going back to that, I haven’t outgrown it, merely because I do give all kinds of music a chance. So, despite the fact that I don’t like it much anymore, if a release comes along that really catches my attention, I’ll give it a shot, and this record is definitely one of those records that caught my attention. Sadly, though, my feelings are mixed. I said I love Rapp’s vocals, and his lyrics, but that’s really it. The music itself is powerful and aggressive, but it’s also generic in a lot of places. This record is one of those “been there, heard that” records, and that’s saying something, because Rapp’s vocals are definitely wonderful. But if you took those out, you’re left with a rather hollow metalcore record that really doesn’t do anything different. In other words, it’s not very creative. Lyrically, on the other hand, it makes up for it to some degree. Not completely, but almost. I don’t want to say that this record is bad, but it’s also not perfect, either. It’s far from it; in all honesty, parts of it make me wonder where The Color Morale is, and what this band has done with them, because they’re a bit more generic than they were four years ago. But at other places, I really like this record, and there are a lot of high points on there. The sincerity of Rapp’s vocals, and his new screams really outweigh the boring instrumentation.
The record begins with “Burn Victims,” and with a title like that, you’d better go big, or go home. In fact, before I talk about the opening track, which does set the stage for the record quite nicely, the lyrics themselves are something to marvel at. I did mention that they hit me pretty hard in some places, and that’s definitely true. Rapp said in an interview that the lyrics are the most honest he’s ever written, and may turn some people away, but not me. I appreciate honest and heartfelt lyrics, especially within this genre, where most of the lyrics are the same cliché garbage that I’ve seen a million times over. These lyrics are actually quite wonderful, and completely unique to a lot of other bands out there in the genre. Going back to the opening track, this track definitely starts Know Hope off with a bang. It does so, because it begins with Rapp’s new screaming style, which is more hoarse, and distinct. People seem to be split on his new vocal style, but that’s okay, because his clean vocals are still the same. In fact, there are some very catcht choruses throughout this record. That leads me to the downside of this record, meaning that there are a lot of generic moments on here, in terms of breakdowns that I’ve felt like I’ve heard a million times over. That’s the one thing that bothers me about this record – there’s not a lot of variety. There are some nice ambient/chill moments on the record, but they’re few and far between. One song that I really like is third track “Learned Behavior,” which was one of the first tracks released from the record, and it’s one of my favorites because of the chorus, which goes, “Come to me with anything that you'll ever need / Come to me when you're rebuilding / Sometimes it's good to build up walls, not to keep anyone out / But to see who cares enough to knock them down.” This is what I meant by the lyrics really hitting me at a few points, and here’s one of them. There are a lot of variation in the lyrics, so when I said there’s not too much variety, it’s in the instrumentation itself, not the lyrical subject matter, which does counteract the lack of variety in the instrumentation. It’s because of this lack of a variety that leads me to something that really bothers me about the genre, which is just that albums in the genre tend to run together to me, just because there’s only so many breakdowns I can hear in a single record and not get bored because I want something with a more depth. When you’re a 14 – 16 year old kid, breakdowns seem cool, but when you’re older, you kind of want something with depth, and with lasting value, not chug-a-long breakdowns that you’ll forget a little while after you hear them.
Like I said earlier, the main attraction of this record is the lyrics, and songs like “Learned Behavior,” “Silver Lining,” and “Saviorself” have very meaningful and honest lyrics from Rapp, and really, that’s the main point I have to drive home with this review. The lyrics are the main attraction, and that’s really it. As for the music itself, I wasn’t completely surprised it wasn’t too unique, but that’s okay. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it doesn’t do a lot for me awhile. Thankfully, though, the lyrics and Rapp’s vocals are the main points of the record, and that keep me back again and again. Most of the tracks sound quite similar, so if you like one song from the album, you’ll most likely enjoy all of them, and every song does have meaningful lyrics, but a few really stuck out to me. As someone who doesn’t really listen to the genre anymore, I’m still very pleased with this record, but it’s not as great as I thought it would be. Regardless, this is a nice record for fans of the genre. If you’re a fan of the genre, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.
Album caught me off guard when I took a listen. I was blown away at most of the songs. The content is great and using the idea of "know hope" is cliche but it fits well here. This is more approachable than their past two albums, in my opinion.
I'm 25 and this genre still speaks to me more than any others. I understand not being able to identify with immature aspects of this genre, but there's no reason to ever outgrow well done music in any genre IMO.