After a shift in personnel and instrumentation, House Vs. Hurricane are back in the game with their sophomore release, ‘Crooked Teeth’. With songs that move from the down-and-dirty to shimmering highs, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into, with the battle between new frontman Dan Casey‘s growl and guitarist Ryan McLerie‘s polished vocals pushing the contrast in styles even further. Yet, it seems that with album number two, HvH may have bitten off more than they can chew.
Sharing stages with the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, Enter Shikari and The Amity Affliction has rubbed off on the Aussies (if those bands hadn’t been influential before). There are some slick transitions in parts: the second half of the anthemic ‘Lost World’ being a case in point. Its chorus is huge, with the “woah”s being ones that were made for bouncing off arena walls, while the varied guitar-sounds gives a depth and texture that proves the decision to throw out the keyboards to be a good one.
‘All We Need’ has another chorus that’s admirable: the lead guitar, with its distortion rolled back, mimics McLerie‘s subdued vocal while the distortion of the rhythm and Casey‘s growls roll with the punches underneath.
For all its stunning contrasts though, it doesn’t take a hold of you. The cohesion across the album is somewhat tenuous, something that can be showcased by the opening and closing tracks. ’40 Deep’ introduces itself with a cringe-worthy attempt of a hip-hop intro (it’s almost as unforgivable as lifting a line from Zach De La Rocha‘s lyric book, as they do later on in the track) and has your atypical dropped-tune chugging firmly in place.
‘Bare Bones’ sees the album out in a timid fashion, playing to the band’s ambient tendencies but abandoning the sound that they’ve built up over the previous 10 tracks. The pummelling of palm-muted riffs that are a fixture of those 10 tracks gets too much to bear, with them sounding over-used rather than overpowering by the time ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ rears its head. A take on the ‘we do this for us’ angle, its sincerity is lost by having that title.
It’s a fair effort, but ‘Crooked Teeth’ misses the mark. There are parts that do shine, but it’s a shine tainted by the parts that could have appeared on any one of the albums to have come out of this scene. There are a handful of noteworthy tracks that demonstrate the potential of HvH. Here’s hoping their next release will be more of a Force 5 than just a stiff south-westerly.
Written by Ryan Williams