A Great Pioneering Effort in Christian Hardcore
Posted July 31, 2011
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Hardcore band These Hearts is released their latest work on July 21, the cleverly titled Forever Ended Yesterday. The album runs very much in the same vein of albums from bands like Before Their Eyes, leaning heavily on hardcore and metal roots with a few unique pop-styled twists that claim a sound of their own.
The album kicks off with the energetic single “Apology Rejected.” The song sets the tone for the rest of the record, leaning heavily on clean vocals though featuring some solid screaming as well. The track also brings out some gang vocals, a feature that comes back often throughout the album. The opening track is the one that will connect most easily with a wider audience, and sets the standard for the lyrical content of much of the album. The singer talks about regretting a relationship with a girl, seeking forgiveness while struggling with the destructive consequences of his actions. The song asks questions more than it answers, but it offers hope as the bridge screams, “with God as my guide, my wounds will heal in time.”
Other songs are much more hard-hitting than the opener, coming in with in-your-face guitar riffs and aggressive vocals. A good example of this is the track “Romans 15,” one of the strongest songs on the album.
This track talks about supporting others when they fall, and it begins with the shouted words of Romans 15:1: “We the strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak." Another harder cut is “Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt,” a track that manages to be heavy while still carrying a very fluid melody. The very strong vocals offered by vocalist Ryan Saunders help to maintain this balance. This song also tackles the challenges of relationships from the perspective of a Christian, speaking into the life of a struggling girl with the line, “If you saw like my God, you'd know that you are loved.”
The guitar work is strong throughout the album, particularly on tracks like “Are You Mad?” and the intense, almost frenzied lament “Live to the Point of Tears.” The drum work takes more of a background role than usual for this genre, but fast paced metal-styled beats come out on some of the tracks, such as the title track.
There are some moments of musical experimentation that add a distinctive stamp to the album. One of these comes with the brief interlude “Self Respect,” which is essentially some meaty guitar riffs with a brief spoken sound byte simply saying, "Today we're going to be talking about self respect.” Another memorable moment comes towards the end of the incredibly solid track “Live to the Point of Tears,” where the sound of squealing tires and sirens is incorporated into the instrumentation.
Few hardcore albums are complete without a ballad, and Forever Ended Yesterday is no exception. The heartfelt “Thinking In Terms of Two” takes that role. The song is written about a wedding, mostly from the point of view of the groom but featuring some strong female backing vocals as well. The track leans entirely on the vocals and acoustic guitar. It is a refreshing and optimistic moment in an album that otherwise deals more with struggling relationships.
The album is a strong release that carries its momentum all the way from the catchy first track to the strong closer. Musically, the album mostly sticks to tried and true hardcore methods, but they bring some creative elements in as well that make the album memorable and well worth looking into. With the lyrics, These Hearts tackles common themes of the hardcore and post-hardcore genres (loneliness, faltering relationships, and regret), but they do so with an underlying foundation of faith that adds a refreshing note of hope.
Christian hardcore is still a field that is explored by only a brave few, and those few often are confined to underground status. That said, These Hearts has put forth a solid album that does an exceptional job forging ahead in a challenging field.
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