4 out of 5
Produced by: Kurt Ballou
Punky, throaty awesomeness, having made their way to hardcore rawk powerhouse Deathwish and re-emerging after a few years with a concise trio of tracks. It’s interesting how a million bands find ways of energizing things we’ve heard before – slow riffage that amps up into punk thrash; bleated shouts on songs with title like Born To Die – but The Hope Conspiracy is another such act, accomplishing it by not only giving their all, but doing it in a laser-focused fashion. Kevin Baker’s always-on yell has no notable inflection or range, but he enunciates and navigates his way around a full sheet of impassioned lyrics for each song; there are stops and starts in our guitars, bass, and drums, but nothing too showy – just straight-ahead fire in the execution; even producer Kurt Ballou seems in on the deal, cutting back his usually low-end heavy stomp for a fairly clean sound that highlights how sharp these guys are without much studio trickery.
Out of our three tracks here, opener In The Shadow of God is probably the best – a blazing couple of minutes of hardcore venting – with closer The Dismal Tide a very close second, taking double the runtime to build up to a pummeling close. Middle track Greed Taught / War Driver / Born To Die has its title indicating its slightly fractured setup, which momentarily stalls momentum on the thing, until the last Born To Die bit takes over and punky metal once again rules the day.