Hail The Sun describe themselves as not just a band, but rather an “entity” and a “lifestyle”. That’s one sure way to set expectations pretty high before newcomers give them a chance, and those are big words chosen by the Californian four-piece. Let’s hope their fifth album, ‘New Age Filth’, can live up to them.
It’s been a decade in the making, with the band working and touring together for the best part of ten years at this stage. Despite this, there’s something about ‘New Age Filth’ that feels fresh. In part, that’s a big plus; no-one wants to get stale, and hearing a new release that genuinely feels, well, new is always a pleasure.
The other side of the coin, of course, is that it leaves considerable room for polish, which is something that definitely springs to mind with this album. From opening track ‘Domino’, which pumps out scruffy post-hardcore, to ‘Misfire’, which pedals one (or two, or three) too many sounds, melodies, and tempos into one track, it’s a little messy and could do with a touch of tidying up. Perhaps Hail The Sun have done this deliberately in an attempt to avoid being labelled or put in a box, which is absolutely fair, but it comes across as lacking focus, and the direction of the band feels unclear.
There are moments, however, that shine bright on this record. ‘Made Your Mark’, the nostalgic homage to 2000s post-hardcore bands like Funeral For a Friend and Silverstein, is fun, especially with those who still hold that era close to their hearts. The trio of ‘Slipped My Mind’, ‘Parasitic Cleanse’, and ‘Hysteriantics’ show off the band’s heavier side, with fast, furious riffs and guttural screams that explode without warning, while ‘Devaluation’ is a chance for vulnerability, with Donovan Melero‘s almost Kellin Quinn-esque vocal tone having that delicate, gentler quality that lends itself to ballads like this.
The band are tantalisingly close to striking gold, and potential tingles on the tongue of every track. Despite their big words, Hail The Sun don’t quite live up to their own description with ‘New Age Filth’, but they’re getting closer.