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Hawthorne Heights- Zero Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 5
Musicianship 5
Lyrics 5
Production 5
Creativity 5
Lasting Value 5
Reviewer Tilt 5
Final Verdict: 50%
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Hawthorne Heights- Zero

Reviewed by: Vance Mook (07/21/13)
Hawthorne Heights - Zero
Record Label: Red Entertainment
Release Date: June 25, 2013

"Oh, how the mighty have fallen..." At least, that's what I would say, given I was having a conversation with the 8th grade version of myself regarding Hawthorne Heights' latest effort, the aptly titled Zero.

Having recently taken more of an alternative rock/pop-punk styling with their music in comparison to the post-hardcore leanings Hawthorne Heights was founded on, there are plenty of redeeming musical moments throughout Zero, but unfortunately not nearly enough to make up for each uncomfortable vocal performance or strain of high-school journal-worthy lyrics. Set against a "war-ravaged, dystopian background", the album often comes off as nothing more than a secondhand photocopy of My Chemical Romance's swan song, Danger Days. In fact, Let's look at the facts- a large, corporate villain (HH's C.A.L.M.- Coalition for Alternate Living Methods vs. My Chem's Better Living Industries) that is attempting to control the population after an apocalyptic event has stricken our heroes. Unfortunately on all counts, the story of Zero often finds itself abandoned and picked back up without the thought or care that could have turned his album into a much stronger listen.

Opening and closing with a "transmission" and a "broadcast" acting as an interlude, the first of these is harmless- "Skeletons Remain" actually acts as a softspoken and curious introduction to Zero that genuinely grasps the listener's interest. The latter two of this trio dwell deep in whirlwind of cheesy spoken-word by the band that does nothing to progress the story. Unfortunately, the message is there- a message of positivity, that one can pull through no matter what they may be struggling against (something most reviews may focus on- the most important thing to mention being, this band is no stranger to overcoming these struggles), but the tracks seem generic and void of emotion.

The kick of "Memories of Misery" is a largely promising start to Zero, featuring the anthemic energy and musical precision many have come to expect of the band, while "Spark" features a massive chorus and 30 Seconds to Mars-esque gang vocals (a comparison more evident through the pristine production of Brian Virtue). Lyrically, Zero falls flat more often than not (the chorus of "Darkside" boasting "All night long/come on baby/come on to the dark side, the dark side.") with the awkward power-ballad "Hollow Hears Unite" taking a trip down Stereotypical Emo Band lane. Lines become repetitive, the worst of which being "There's a girl next door/she's got cuts on both sides of her arms/she likes the pain, 'cause the pain don't break her heart...but I think I can save her." The vocals make this song all the more uncomfortable, with JT Woodruff doing his best new-era Chris Conley impression.

We're treated to a number of what will inevitably become staples in the bands' career, including upbeat moments like "Golden Parachutes" and the fantastically-executed return to form in "Put Me Back Together" and "Taken By The Dark", which feature more hook than lyrical wit and Micah Carli's memorable screaming. For each of these staples, however, there is another equally forgettable moment that could have been easily cut from this 15-track album- "Anywhere But Here" and "Strangers" never really reaching their full potential, while the title track is filled with misdirected emotion and vocal desperation that pushes Woodruff's fitting voice over the edge far too often throughout Zero.

Zero is a frustrating listen for several reasons- its undeserving length, the filler-to-quality ratio, and the moments where we know damn-well that the band could've written something better, or recorded something that didn't sound so off. While it's definitely worth a listen and will probably be revisited by those who follow the band or the genre (and perhaps even myself as an occasional guilty pleasure), Zero simply fails too many times to hit a mark in the band's discography. With any luck, we can hope for a tighter and more straightforward approach to whatever Hawthorne Heights attempts next. There's a certain force and emotional delivery that goes along with the message they stand for, and we know they're capable of it; unfortunately for now, this album seems to be not much more than a product of the C.A.L.M.

Recommended If You LikeHawthorne Heights; My Chemical Romance's Danger Days; generic rock albums; junior high
 
Displaying posts 1 - 4 of 4.
10:20 AM on 07/28/13
#2
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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All valid points, obviously I liked the album more than you though haha. I agree that the story wasn't that prominent or obvious throughout the record (why I didn't mention it in the review). I guess JT does kind of sound like Chris Conley on this album. Pretty good review
11:12 AM on 07/28/13
#3
Vance Mook
Fastest Kid in School
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All valid points, obviously I liked the album more than you though haha. I agree that the story wasn't that prominent or obvious throughout the record (why I didn't mention it in the review). I guess JT does kind of sound like Chris Conley on this album. Pretty good review

Thanks man!

It's all personal preference haha there's a lot worse things you could listen to, and I might revisit tracks from this occasionally. Nothing just hit me with this record making it really good, either. Yeah, "Hollow Hearts" was pretty awful in my opinion. Then again, "Memories of Misery" is great, so...maybe they'll hook me next time.
11:20 AM on 07/28/13
#4
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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Thanks man!

It's all personal preference haha there's a lot worse things you could listen to, and I might revisit tracks from this occasionally. Nothing just hit me with this record making it really good, either. Yeah, "Hollow Hearts" was pretty awful in my opinion. Then again, "Memories of Misery" is great, so...maybe they'll hook me next time.
Hollow Hearts is a terrible song haha.
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