Hot Cross - Fair Trade And Farewells (Cover Artwork)

Hot Cross

Fair Trade And Farewells (2004)

Level Plane

The new EP from Hot Cross is a six-song ass-kicker that reeks of screamo (yes, true screamo) fury. It hints at a return to their roots shown on the A New Set Of Lungs EP, with a dash of their style from Cryonics thrown in, only much better. For those disappointed with their debut full-length (I know I sure was), fear no more; they're back to making truly solid music.

For those who don't know, Hot Cross is basically your screamo all-star band, with members from numerous legendary bands; Saetia, You And I, Joshua Fit For Battle, and The Now to name a few. The vocalist, formerly of Saetia (one of the greatest bands ever to exist, in my opinion), uses a combination of talk-singing and screaming that fits well with the music. The vocals actually remind me of Rites Of Spring, a band constantly considered the first true emocore band. There are two guitar players, and there is constant noodling and dueling going on between the two. What I find rather awesome is that when both guitars are going at it in soloing fashion, there isn't a magical third distorted guitar track in the background, only bass. It actually sounds much better this way. There's no more than two guitar tracks on here, which makes for a very classic and awesome feel. With Hot Cross, you've got your grindy, chaotic parts, and your slower, moodier parts, only without the cheese factor that many bands have perfected (that may be the wrong choice of words) lately. If you're sick of the latest trend of faux-emocore, look no further than Hot Cross.

Even at only seventeen minutes, the Fair Trade And Farewells EP rips. From the insane guitar work on "Better A Corpse Than A Nun" (easily the EP's finest moment) to the more melodic tones of the opener "Prepare Repair", it's obvious that you're listening to what will be one of the top EPs of the year. The dark "Solanka" exposes a near-religious mood, and the chant-like vocals only add to the atmospheric song. "Throw Collars To The Wind" has some crazy drum fills and an awesome lead guitar part, and the closer "Consonants", with the "emo" intro and all, showcases everything the band does well, rolled into one song. There's one instrumental track, "Two Cripples Dancing", which I usually skip. It adds nothing to the EP, and at 1:59, the band could have put a real scorcher in its place.

Fair Trade And Farewells is definitely something special, as Hot Cross shows that there is a happy medium between easy-to-get-into emocore and the more grindcore feel that most Level-Plane bands hold. If you're sick of the current state of music, you could do a lot worse than to check this out. Definitely recommended.