The Blackout - Hope
The Blackout’s much anticipated third album, Hope, was released last month on April 4th. Delivered by a band well-known for having the “love to hate” factor, along with a ridiculously loyal fanbase (commonly known as the ‘Riot Squad’), opinions are bound to be divided. Having toured with huge names in the rock industry, such as Limp Bizkit, My Chemical Romance, Lostprophets and Paramore on the back of their critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Best in Town, the Welsh rockers have certainly managed to make a name for themselves, thus far. Can Hope propel them to an even higher level?…
1. Ambition is Critical
Originally released as a free download, the opener to Hope is certainly a banger. Riff’s flying everywhere and the kind of anthemic chorus that some may have said The Blackout lacked in their previous discography, Ambition is Critical is potentially the band’s best work to date. “Call us what you want and say what you will, we are doing this for nothing but the thrills” is a clear two-fingered salute to the haters of the controversial post-hardcore rockers and if any song was going to change opinions on the band, this is it.
2. Never By Your Side
We see the classic combination of Sean Smith’s harsh, screaming vocals and melodic voice of Gavin Butler working to great effect on this track. It’s certainly not the most restrained song they’ve ever done, but a tune that will definitely get the pits moving at live shows. Containing backing quotes from the American Civil Rights movement, it’s certainly inspiring enough to become a classic for fans of The Blackout. Big.
3. Higher and Higher
The first single from Hope, Higher and Higher is certainly an opinion divider. Containing a verse from Hyron Fenton, commonly known as Houston rapper Hyro Da Hero, it’s completely different from anything the band has previously put its name to. While the addition of (God-forbid) rap vocals may offend and surprise much of the bands fan base, it’s energy and radio-friendly, catchy choruses are bound to attract masses of new fans. Extremely well produced by the band’s long-time producer and friend, Jason Perry.
4. Hope (Scream It Out Loud)
The Blackout had extensive financial difficulties in the process of recording Hope and had to enlist the support of Pledge, a company that allows bands to auction special items, important memorabilia and events to fans in order to raise the necessary funds needed to record an album (whilst also gifting loyal fans the opportunity to contribute to the band’s album). Hope (Scream It Out Loud) contains a gang of vocals from over thirty of The Blackout’s most dedicated fans and is certainly a song that is appropriate to earn the album title. As far as ballads from heavy rock bands go, it’s rare that they get the appreciation that they deserve, and this song is likely to stick with the trend. It’s got a harmony that the likes of Take That and U2 would respect, but realistically, it’s probably not gonna get the number of plays that it potentially deserves. “Never give in, hope is all we’ve had and all we’ll ever know.”
5. This Is Our Time
In a similar vain to Shutthefuckuppercut from The Best in Town, This Is Our Time is heavy, catchy and goes at a million miles an hour. Sounding extremely f**ked off and ready to take the music industry, Britain, America and the World by storm, The Blackout have written a cracker. As screamy as they’ve ever been, but with a chorus that’ll blow your head off, this will certainly be a favourite with the Riot Squad. They’ve definitely proved that progress can occur without necessarily changing the tone of music that have won them so many plaudits. The Blackout deliver a clear and frustrated message to all the rock bands they’ve seen submit to pop music, as they scream: “Sell up, sell out, to scrape your way ahead” and “Sell up, sell out, we’re seeing fucking red” and man, have they managed to stick to their guns. Tune, tune, tune!
6. The Last Goodbye
Packed full of cheese, love and honesty, The Last Goodbye is as near to a teary-eyed love song as The Blackout will get. Saying that, they’ve managed to perfect writing impressive, well constructed songs and this is certainly a lighters-in-the-air moment at live shows.
7. No More Waiting
It often irritates music fans when they see bands potentially reference, or at least become heavily influenced by huge bands, but on this track, The Blackout manage to funnel the fury of Rage Against The Machine into a mental breakdown, as the band scream: “Wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!”. The mosh pits will become a no-go zone for anyone who values their limbs. Heavy, big and full of confidence, No More Waiting is certainly a song to be proud of.
8. The Devil Inside
The Blackout often describe themselves as Nu-Metal, and on some of the tracks on this album, that label is definitely inappropriate. On this song however, it fits entirely. Floor-shaking riffs, harsh, heavy vocals and a seriousness that we don’t often see from the band, it’s hard not to respect this song. While we’ve become used to The Blackout’s not-taking-itself-too-seriously rock music, this song is a huge step up. A heavy, moving, mature tune, containing an epic guitar solo. The Devil Inside is certainly impressive.
9. You’re Not Alone
A very commonly used song title, You’re Not Alone is unlike any other made so far. It’s as poppy as The Blackout have ever been and a song that definitely shows off their song writing ability. Despite it’s big rocky chorus, it’s possibly more of a filler song on Hope — it’s not one you should expect to see at their live shows too often.
10. Keep On Moving
Comparable to the previous song, The Blackout’s new and improved mature writing style takes its shape in the form of a ballad again. It’s easy to imagine that if the likes of Joe Mcelderry, Justin Bieber and JLS (artists — if you can call them that — who should never, realistically, be named in the same review as The Blackout) had written this song, it’d easily be found in the upper regions of the UK Singles Chart. As they haven’t, it’ll probably, unfortunately, be lost in the abyss of forgotten, potentially great, rock songs.
11. The Storm
The album closes with a huge bang, as The Storm is a combination of heavy, catchy, melodic and screamy – everything that can be used to describe The Blackout and Hope. It’s almost as if they’ve taken all the energy from two years of live shows and put it into this song. Fast, yet extremely grown-up, this song deserves its place on the Mainstage at Leeds and Reading Festivals this summer. As the words “don’t tear us apart, I’ll tear you apart” are chanted, it’s hard to remember just how far The Blackout have come. This is certainly a highlight from the album and the perfect way to end Hope.
RATING – 4/5
While some may argue that Hope doesn’t contain the individual, popular hits that became familiar on The Best In Town, it’s much more of a journey of great songs, much more of a complete album. The album manages to combine huge choruses with the heavy, screamy vocals that we’ve become used to hearing from The Blackout. It’s an album that was made by a group of people who managed to overcome adversity and that’s certainly represented throughout. Overall, a top effort and album that deserves to push The Blackout on to bigger and better things.
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