Like a ray of light triumphantly blasting through your bedroom window in the morning, Carry the Torch's erratic and soaring guitar licks accompany a scratchy, powerful roar as you are awoken from some horrible dream with a stark new reality of the world. But don't worry, CtT is here to help you pull through, and with their counterparts in Signs of Hope, you will soon be empowered. Filled with messages of resisting social oppression and fighting personal depression, their new split 7-inch will raise the dragging mind of any listener.
Released on Goodwill Records earlier this year, CtT and SoH bring contrasting sounds to the table. CtT combine the melodic and technical sensibility of bands such as Misery Signals, Shai Hulud, Comeback Kid and Verse into a sporadic barrage of sounds. SoH stay on the simplistic side, while emphasizing the raging and overflowing aggression pumping through their veins, similar to ex-communicated hardcore acts like Blue Monday and veteran road warriors Bane. With two very different sounds originating from the opposite sides of the country (Sacramento, Calif., and Bridgeport, Conn.), this split showcases the sounds of two promising bands.
Each band offers up two prime cuts of their home-cooked style of hardcore. On the CtT side of the tracks, the song "Color Wash the Devil Gold" propels past the listener as it heads east. Upon arrival, SoH welcomes friendly ears with their standout track "Life Everyday". Technically speaking, "Arches and Angles" spits on "Color Wash" unsympathetically; structurally, however, the latter track shines. While still being hyper-active and turbulent in nature, "Color Wash" is strongly held together through shifting guitars that lead into flowing, anthemic rhythms. Auspicious lyrics such as "I have to learn to finally breathe / I have to learn to fully live" are projected through the harsh beating and pleading sound of their lead vocalist, while the band holds him up in his effort.
This release is somewhat of a departure from their last effort, 2008's Dead Weather EP, being speedier and more chaotic while retaining their core sound. Through this process, many of their mid-tempo, groove-based metalcore elements have been lost, replaced by an updated and faster version. While speed may be more impressive technically, it takes away from the effect of the songs as a whole, as these songs don't seem to live up to their predecessors.
Signs of Hope bring the listener back with their old-school sound and posi-filled messages. The beginning of "Life Everyday" sucks the listener in before giving way to a ferocious combination of circle pit-based guitar work and rolling drums. Sing-alongs are scattered throughout the song and help to enforce the positive messages found within the song. "You gotta pick yourself up man and turn it around," words that carry much meaning in their simplistic ways–ending in a butchering breakdown guaranteed to make any hardcore fan pick up some change.
Not straying too far from their previous releases worked in SoH's favor as they continue to perfect their brand of strengthening melodic hardcore. Although similar to their splitmates, their featured songs don't seem to compare to older efforts. Overall, the split seems a bit rushed but still a solid effort from both bands.