Ryan's Hope - The Trials Of Recession (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Ryan's Hope

The Trials Of Recession (2004)

Double Zero

On their first disc released on a label, we find the sound of Ryan's Hope growing in every direction. While they remain what is best called melodic hardcore (but maybe more like melodic punk with hardcore moments) the band is stretching their sound in both the "melodic" direction and the "hardcore" direction, adding intensity and speed while keeping their musicality. For those unfamiliar, the band is a three piece from the Chicagoland area, formed in 2000. Having been in hardcore bands previously, they felt constricted and wanted a sound that could encompass more of their tastes (influences listed on their site are The Smiths and the Smoking Popes alongside Snapcase and black metal). The band has been working hard since its inception, quickly gathering a large fan base by playing often, releasing homemade EPs, playing Chicago's top venues and also stops on the 2003 Warped Tour by winning a contest through Alternative Press. They also won the 2nd round of Double Zero's "Fans Sign the Band" contest, but label owner Mike Felumlee was so impressed he just signed them with the contest still going.

On The Trials of Recession, the songs are catchier than ever, one of my favorites being "Rest Assured", with the band sounding like Bad Religion at moments, and "Condemning Race" which includes handclaps to the drum hits in the chorus, which you can find their dedicated fans helping out with at shows. "Fiction and Transcendence" is another track with an outstanding melody, yet retaining an edge. All of these songs still contain the band's hardcore leanings of course, and actually Terry's vocals have gained a roughness that matches the band's sound nicely. So while there are hooks aplenty, they pack more of a punch than in the past.

The band has also reached new heights with their hardcore elements, especially in "In a Sea", with help on backup throat (I gotta say throat rather than vocals) by Adam from a fellow Joliet band called Article 57. I believe I once called his screams "bloodcurdling" in a live review, and I stand by that. Yes, it is a good thing. The final breakdown of the song, featuring screams of "Recede!" just kicks a lot of ass. "In My Departure" is another of the more hardcore of the tracks, alternating between breakneck tempos and fierce breakdowns, and with a blistering solo and a harsh chugging ending, it will have the most timid of listener head banging. Another track worth mentioning is "Tonight Alive", a standout on the album… ah hell, they are all good, with the only possible exception being the closer, "Midnight". While it is nice to hear the band step outside their safety zone with this acoustic tune, the drums sound weird and the amount of reverb on the vocals is just too unnatural. Perhaps with some changes in the production, this could have worked, but I just can't help thinking what the song would sound like with the normal instrumentation.

The biggest problem with the album is the production. For sure, it does sound better than any of their past releases, and it is not bad enough to ruin the songs, but it is bare bones here for the most part. There is no double tracking of vocals and little on the guitars, and some backup guitar during the solos would've been nice so the bass isn't left by its lonesome. Also, the bass drum is tad loud. Visually, the artwork leaves something to be desired, although the art on the disc itself is very cool. The final downside would be the short length of the album: 27 minutes. Out of the 11 tracks, only two are over three minutes. There is an upside to this- that they never wear out their welcome with an idea; which I feel gives the songs a longer life.

I believe the band signed with Double Zero after this album was completed, so perhaps their next release will have some more money behind it to start with, allowing the band the proper time and resources to create a 5 star album. I definitely see it in their future.