August 23, 2011 - Cardboard Empire
After everything Hawthorne Heights have endured in their decade-long career—the tragic death of guitarist Casey Calvert and a manager, an acrimonious split from Victory Records and a brief, unsuccessful tenure with Wind-Up Records—it’s understandable that the quartet would have some things to get off their proverbial chest. The nine-song Hate marks the band’s first foray into newfound independence. While their past two efforts largely shied away from the heavier tendencies found on their earlier releases, Hate is filled with caustic instrumentation, sludgy riffs and screamed vocals. It’s as if this aggressive side, dormant for the past few years, has finally boiled over all at once. The formula works especially well on “Four White Walls” and “Divided,” the latter of which walks a fine line between airy verses reminiscent of Thursday and a roaring chorus.
Lyrically, the disc is a mixed bag. JT Woodruff has always traded in slightly morose, woe-is-me wordplay, but some of the lines here (most notably on “Hate” and “There Was A Kid (Part 1),” which features the line, “There was a kid who was failing all his classes/He never had a friend, he never knew he needed glasses”) come off as remarkably sophomoric for someone five albums deep into his musical career. Still, if some of these songs are any indication, the band aren’t about to let a host of personal obstacles derail their love for music making—even if reclaiming their mid-’00s level of stardom seems out of reach. Sometimes, that’s enough