Hope Lane Is a Dead End - Illuminate (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hope Lane Is a Dead End

Illuminate (2009)


There are so, so many records out there that while technically great, lack a certain 'it' factor that prevent them from leaving a lasting impression on the listener. And in a genre as crowded and homogenized as metallic hardcore, it's admittedly difficult for a band to create music that defies convention, or is at least somewhat memorable (and yeah, the same thing can be said for virtually any type of music, but at least most of those other genres at least possess hooks and/or melodies that help to maintain interest). There are only so many br00tal riffs and double-bass drum fills with which to work, and unfortunately most of them have been rehashed and recycled past the point of recognition. Hope Lane Is a Dead End make an admirable go of it on Illuminate, but there simply aren't enough standout moments to warrant repeat listens.

The gang vocals in "Taking Flight" and "Up to Our Necks" are a nice touch, and there are a few mathy parts sprinkled here and there that display the band's musical chops. The riffs that dominate "Botched Blueprints" are undeniably tasty, and the drumming is more than solid enough. "1984" features some clean dual vocals and the riffs here are ever-so-slightly more rooted in punk that they're difficult to notice, and the cymbal-heavy drum fills are impressive without being overly distracting.

But again, there's nary a hook to be found here. It is possible for music this intense to be catchy, but HLIADE have a hard time forging anything of the kind. The screaming vocals of Dave Doucette are pretty much a non-starter, as his delivery isn't nearly dynamic enough to leave an impression; his screams become especially frantic on "Quotients," but unfortunately it's too little, too late. And as much as these guys employ proficiently mathy parts in their songs, they tend to throw in a few hokey guitar riffs as well that don't seem to fit within the scope of the song (the aforementioned "Quotients," "Ten Times Platinum").

A little focus and some more original vocals would do Hope Lane Is a Dead End plenty of good. There's brief flashes of potential on Illuminate, but it's hard to recommend when there are so many better releases out there.