Hostage Calm - Die On Stage (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hostage Calm

Die On Stage (2014)

Run For Cover

Die On Stage is definitely the album that confirms the path which Hostage Calm have set themselves on. They've tempered and toned down their sound record by record over the past couple years, tinkering along the way at Run For Cover. I noticed this since 2010. As skeptical as I was, I still enjoyed their body of work though and this album, while not their most definitive or most assured set, does feel like the skin they are most comfortable in and something has to be said for that. These ten tracks are a distinctive outlay on pop—punk and their big statement on catchy, infectious singalong melodies. Judging from the titles of all the tracks and the lyrical content throughout, you gain a strong sense as well that it's about heartbreak and picking up the pieces when you feel like you just can't anymore. Hostage Calm try to help overcome this adversity.

"12/31" as an acoustic of being alone, ushering the New Year, signifies much of this. It's depressing but catchy as fuck. The same weighs in with the likes of "Fallen Angel" and "Your Head/Your Heart" which really show that this poppy arena may well be the one they're best suited to. All so simple and for want of a better word, fun. Despite the sad tone, the snappy hooks and driving rhythms act as a great punk stabilizer in case the album wanders off into too light a tone. These are the tracks you can't help but bob to, even if you're pissed at yourself for doing so. A bit juvenile and a bit simplistic at times but you'll find yourself saying "fuck it" pretty soon. Little bits of NFG and even Say Anything crop up here and there. The latter's seen on "Love Against."

However, there's a good balance found on Die On Stage to satisfy older fans as well. The haunting post—punk "Someone Else" features slick riffage and a grittier take on things as the album gets dirtied in these few spots, throwing back to when Hostage Calm cut a bit rougher. "A Thousand Miles Away From Here" nods back even further to the hardcore, skate—punk days. While at first listen, you'd find yourself scratching your head over how varied Hostage Calm have gotten, listen closely because in tracks like these, you get reacquainted with their older elements and appreciate the record a bit more. And when these oldies emerge, they rip!

"Raised" is one of those angry jams that marries their edgier days and the more straightforward pop—punkers they've become. It sounds like Chester Bennington joined up and really flows with the rest of the album. A bit dance—y and electronic but still, it works to emphasize that while the majority of Die On Stage feels like the '90s and early 2000s, it does deflect in bits and pieces from the Hostage Calm we're accustomed to. Yet they retain what they need to from their old holster and splice them in neatly. All in all, the ten tracks are uncompromisingly honest and bittersweet, but another great chapter written. Personally, I'd have liked them to rough it more and get grimier but the mid—ground they've struck ain't too bad at all. Heavy on the pop—end but just enough punk skirmishes to keep me a happy camper.