The weekend of May 27th, 28th, and 29th was one of the best for music I've ever had the fortune of experiencing. In one weekend, for little more than 20 dollars total, I was able to see Buried Inside, Ion Dissonance, Freya, Achilles, Marathon, Burial Year, Bane, the Promise, and the subject of this review and only band I hadn't previously heard, Dead Hearts. In an extremely energetic set sandwiched between Burial Year and Marathon, Dead Hearts impressed mightily with their brand of hardcore.
Now, three months later, Dead Hearts have released their Reflections Records EP, No Love, No Hope. And while at only a meager 12 minutes, it still hits just as hard as its self-titled predecessor.
This is no frills, no bullshit hardcore done just about as well as possible. Singer Derek Dole's solid shouting approach is always at the forefront of these fast and furious songs, and it's clear that the basis is all on him. There's no huge breakdowns, there's no extravagant soloing, there's no singing -- just Dole's powerful vocals and some terrific gang vocals that accent, not detract. The opener, "Buildings," with its rock'n'roll-infused hardcore sets the stage extremely well for the other 6 tracks, and while it's the album's slowest effort, the strong gang vocals bring all the power and ferocity that the band is going to need. Following that up is sort of a point of contention for me, as Dead Hearts have decided to re-record the track "Bright Lights, Burnt City" from their self-titled EP. The new recording bares little difference to the previous one, but it remains a real solid track nonetheless. Dole's screams of "I see the city for what it is, nothing more than a burial ground for, our caskets / Look at the skyline, look at the streets, there's nothing left but shattered dreams / Are we gonna sit around, or are we gonna burn it down tonight?" resonate long after the song is actually over.
The best track to be found on the EP comes by the name of "Goodbye," and it's the fastest, most aggressive Dead Hearts recording to date. Two solid minutes of unrelenting old school hardcore fury, and it could not sound better. However, the subsequent track, "These Are Our Lives," does not let the listener catch their breath just quite yet. Sprinting out of the gate with full force guitars, there's also great examples of fluid gang vocals to be found, and the drummer is spot on through it all. And even though Dole's voice is the EP's centerpiece, the great guitar work is absolutely not to be ignored. No matter the pace and no matter the volume, the guitar work carries the perfect amount of rhythm and power, without ever having the chance to become boring. The speedy riffing at the beginning of "Uglytown" is only a precursor to the all-out assault that the song serves as, and it's a perfect way to carry the EP out.
Recently signed to Ferret Records, Dead Hearts have a full-length on the way at some point in 2006, and there's no reason any fan of good hardcore should not be anticipating the hell out of it. Extremely strong and present vocals, great instrumentation, and solid lyrics, this may be the best EP I've heard in any genre this year. Take notice, this band isn't going anywhere.