‘HOPE’ – The Blackout
It doesn’t quite seem like two years have passed since The Blackout last released new material. Yet, after a handful of tours and a tumultuous time under their label, here they are with a new offering completely funded by the unique ‘PledgeMusic’ scheme. For all intents and purposes, this is an album funded by the fans, for the fans. No pressure to deliver then.
Opening with previously released ‘Ambition Is Critical’, The Blackout set the tone in their typically over the top, “It’s fucking great being me!” manner. A massive middle-finger to their troubles, the track is perfect as it encapsulates their riotous live energy in just over four minutes. Continuing in the same vein is Never By Your Side and lead single Higher and Higher – the latter of which features a bold rap break by Hyro Da Hero. Think Jay-Z and Linkin Park (and then think again). Amongst the opening tracks there are plenty of gang vocals, electrifying melodies and heaven-and-hell esque vocal combinations from Gavin Butler and Sean Smith. So far, so The Blackout.
Much like previous offerings of It’s High Tide Baby and Top Of The World, title track Hope (Scream It Out Loud) fills the quota for “emotional track with lots of whoa-oh’s”. But whether it’s the weak vocals in the verse, or clichéd lyrics, ‘Hope’ doesn’t sit as well as its predecessors. Indeed, the softer tracks of the album – The Last Goodbye, You’re Not Alone and Keep On Moving – feel ever so slightly more like samples to be played when X Factor contestants get through boot camp than legitimate efforts.
That said, when The Blackout are good, they’re really good. The Devil Inside is a riotous and thrashing anthem destined to bring bodies in the band’s notorious live shows. This Is Our Time is a furious punch in the face bolstered down with a chorus as cavernous as the valleys that these Welsh boys grew up in.
Overall, ‘Hope’ has its brilliant moments and disappointing lulls. The influence of peers such as Lostprophets is far more evident in this LP than it has been in previous works – not that that constitutes a negative, it’d just be refreshing to hear more of a growth and expansion on The Blackout’s sound rather than their inspiration. Fans will undoubtedly love this album – after all, they wouldn’t have pledged money on trips to the zoo with the band if they weren’t positive the result would be to their liking. But for casual or first-time listeners, ‘Hope’ doesn’t offer an entire patented thrill-ride The Blackout experience that it could.
Hope is out now.