This Is Hell - Sundowning (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

This Is Hell

Sundowning (2006)


This is This Is Hell.

This is Sundowning.

This is a really good debut full-length that's otherwise seeming to polarize people for really curious reasons that I may never fathom.

What more can you ask of a hardcore band's first album when it brings the same amount of intensity as the preceding EPs, integrates more influences from the likes of the Suicide File and the Hope Conspiracy instead of relying solely on a base Give Up the Ghost nod, completely sheds comparisons to the band members' former endeavors (Scraps and Heart Attacks, the Backup Plan), offers a rapidly changing dynamic in terms of accessibility, and releases the whole thing in a package designed by Converge front-man and talented artist Jake Bannon? Very, very little comes to mind.

Sundowning starts out utterly relentless. "Retrospect" and "Prelude (Again)" bring the kind of aggression and tempo that would lead me to describe them as "in your face" if I hadn't recycled that phrase so much already. It's downright weird to hear songs so blistering in comparison to a band's slightly elder material, but that's precisely what they present. However, the scales are balanced with "Permanence," "The Polygraph Cheaters," and "Procession Commence" (the last of which features yet another wonderful cameo from Glassjaw / Head Automatica voicebox Daryl Palumbo), great songs in their own right but also ones that seem to have a certain crossover appeal about them. When the band fleshes out like this and slows down ever so slightly, the song seems to have a wider appeal, but only in the best way, using repetition that's efficient, not obnoxious.

Thing is, there's midpoints too: The chorus of "Here Comes the Rains" is downright fanatstic for its emotional tinge, and the memorial interludes of "4/8/05" and "8/27/05" are kind reprieves from the sorted amounts of controlled chaos usually taking place. "The Absentee Ballot" is a building and breaking anthem, coughing up a wonderful range considering it's under 2 minutes.

The only minor complaint I may have is the few forced breakdowns ("Broken Teeth," "Procession Commence," "Epilogue") on the disc. They do seem thrown in just to relate to the band's label-mates, but they're both sporadic and brief enough that I don't entirely mind them, and usually creative considering, anyway.

Sundowning delivers on most of the promises that This Is Hell's demo and followup EP were vehemently making. For all the band's somewhat obvious comparisons, it honestly feels unique in all its styles and moods and the structure both are presented in. This Is Hell should not only continue to make big waves in the hardcore community, but open up the floodgates for the ocean to expand.

The Polygraph Cheaters