Zero reminisces with older Hawthorne Heights and takes listeners back to the time when the band were recognised as a musical force.
Fifth full-length, 'Zero' from stalwarts, Hawthorne Heights begins in a raw and distant fashion, with minimal guitar and vocals. This feeling is maintained and supported early, as if the band from the beginning are attempting to get listeners to reminisce on old Hawthorne Heights songs the band are most known for, such as ‘Niki FM’ and ‘Ohio Is for Lovers’. This counters their recent albums, which were more smooth and cleanly produced, namely Fragile Future, Skeletons and Hate. This shift in sound was due to Casey Calvert’s sudden death in 2007, leaving the band without a rhythm guitarist and screamer. While Zero's predecessor employed limited screamed vocals, it was still a very clean and produced album. The full-length in question is also dominated mostly by clean vocals, and therefore holds that aspect of the band’s more recent material while still drawing back to Hawthorne Heights’ older albums. In ‘Memories of Misery’, JT Woodruff sings, “skeletons remain”, connecting it to the first track, and beginning to weave a thread through the tracks found on 'Zero'.
‘Darkside’, is short, which becomes a common thread. 15 tracks in total helping the short duration for each respective offering. This works in the group’s favour in the sense it ensures there is not too much repetition, but equally, there is a bit too much to take in. The album is constantly changing songs every few minutes or so, and these are cleverly held together by the threads weaved through them, but, often the tracks blend into each other. This makes it seem as if some of them could almost be the same song, and so, they do not seem necessary to the album.
‘Spark’ includes the simple lyric, “I can’t live in the dark”, maintaining the themes. Whiney vocals that would fit in perfectly in the early-mid 2000s singpost this moment.
The title track starts out very punchy and is the closest the album gets to the heavier early Hawthorne Heights sound since the opening. ‘Lost in the Calm’, which has some heavy and wailing guitar and even a bit of screamed vocals in it, and ‘Taken by the Dark’, which has occasional heavy and palm-muted lead and rhythm parts keep the intensity going late.
Contrastively, ‘Hollow Hearts Unite’ is sweet acoustic guitar track with soft vocals, which are comparable to the soft vocals Chris Conley does with Saves the Day. The track proves to be really beautiful, and this is especially so when humming and light strings are added into the mix.
'Zero' maintains the raw and less polished sound, and reminisces with aspects the band has been missing. This is definitely an album, which should get old listeners tuning back in.
Zero is not what is expected, given the band’s most recent albums, which were not necessarily bad, but had a different sound to what Hawthorne Heights used to be. This is perhaps a return to their roots. It feels as if the band have realised what it is that they are best at, and because of this Zero can be seen as a step forward for them.
1. Skeletons Remain (Transmission 1)
2. Memories of Misery
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6. Anywhere but Here
7. Hollow Hearts Unite
8. Coalition of Alternate Living Methods (Broadcast)
9. Golden Parachutes
10. Put Me Back Together
12. Ghost Town
13. Lost in the Calm
14. Taken by the Dark
15. Over and Out (Transmission 2)