As Hope Dies - As Hope Dies (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

As Hope Dies

As Hope Dies (2006)

Still Life

As Hope Dies has seemingly broken up and reformed more times than most bands even have songs. Their tumultuous career has spanned only four years and a consequential lesser number of releases, but in their favor, the limited output has been on the definite upside of anything to come from Orange County this decade.

Whereas bands like Bleeding Through and Eighteen Visions have decided to hop on the fashion wagon, As Hope Dies have been plenty content making some of the most blistering metal on this side of the world. Taking heavy cues from the trademark Swedish sound, this five-piece injects the ferocity and all out power that many similar bands lack.

Vocalist David Richardson's chords can come at you from a variety of angles, but the good majority of it is a raspy and chaotic delivery that perfectly suits the shredding beneath it. He's got his highs, and his lows, but the balanced middle is about as perfect a delivery as one could aspire for in this type of music. Every word drips with power and rage, but Richardson does possess the reserve not to overdo things, which would give off a corny feel from the start. Unfortunately, the lyrical themes delve too far into the hopeless and angsty side of the coin to be taken too seriously. An unfortunate drawback, but not one that takes much away from the package as a whole. Besides, vocals and lyrics aside, what really will bring people to this EP is the guitar work.

In short -- it rips. Every riff and chord progression is so full of unrelenting energy that you can't help but be drawn in. And impressively enough, the band manages to sidestep the pitfall many similar bands take of becoming too wrapped up in their own talents, and more concerned with being outrageous than solid songwriting. "In Hope of Perfection" will demonstrate that in the finest of fashions, as for the four-minute duration, it grips the throat, and never lets go. Wasting no time with formality, some great melodic riffing kicks in, with tasteful double bass and some hard-hitting rhythms underneath, until the vocals kick in, things speed up, and the song just gets faster, and faster, and faster, to the point where you won't be able to even tap to the beat anymore. "The Sound of Hollow Words" takes the speed the previous song had, and seems to build on that, kicking up the vocal intensity, and matching it to the absolutely relentless pounding of the drums, creating a veritable hurricane of noise.

A damn shame this is the last thing the band will record, because there's so much talent and ability spread between these five guys, that it's quite possible they could have been making killer metal albums for many years to come. A fitting swan song, but an unfortunate one nonetheless.