Review: A Hope for Home – Realis

Artist: A Hope For Home
Album: Realis
Genre: Post-Hardcore
Label: Facedown

Portland’s A Hope For Home merely began as an emotional outlet during a time of despair but have recently transcended into a devoted endeavor. While most post-hardcore acts build their foundation by combining intricate, fast-paced guitar riffs and relentless drumming, A Hope For Home, take a different approach. They interweave standard hardcore elements but execute them in a slower, more melodic manner.  After releasing their critically acclaimed album, The Everlasting Man, they struck the interest of renowned label, Facedown Records. Soon after signing they stepped back into the studio and are nearing the release of their forthcoming album, Realis.

A Hope For Home put ample amount of effort to get their message across. Following their signature trademark, Realis is a conceptual declaration of the doubts, fears, and questions humanity asks on a daily basis. The album tells an introspective tale of a man that finds himself living in a world filled with hopelessness and ultimately questions his existence. As the story unfolds the man struggles to reconstruct his understandings of reality as he searches for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world.  Not only do they paint a picture with their visionary lyrics but they also incorporate their music to enhance the sonic imagery. A clear example is their literature inspired track, “The Machine Stops,” depicts the protagonist’s fear of a “machine” driven world and how mankind’s dependency on technology could contribute to our downfall.  The aforementioned musical aspect comes into play towards the second half of the song where they create a mechanical chugging sound that follows the narrative.

Not only is the concept enticing but the music is right up to par. The opening track, “Nightfall,” builds its structure with a soothing soundscape that ascends to clashing cymbals and a deep bass line. As the music hits its pinnacle height, Nathan Winchell enters with his dominating harsh vocals. The track flows perfectly into its successor, “The Overman.” Interchanging earth-shatterng screams with clean singing during the chorus all layered over enduring chugging made for a captivating mix.  On a musical spectrum, “Withering Branches,” “The Machine Stops,” and “Crippling Fear,” deliver the heavier sounds on the album.  These are the tracks that progressive hardcore fans will be sure to love. While proving the have a softer side, “No Light,” “First Light of Dawn,” and “The Warmth of the Heavens,” all flow in the vein as the opening track. They all start instrumentally, almost appearing to be interludes, but midway through kick in the vocals.  These instrumental sections provide a peaceful break but because they are used quite frequently they start to seem too lengthy and overused. Unlike the other softer tracks, “No Light,” relatively remains on the same soothing, melancholic plane. This song is a mesmerizing interval that showcases the clean vocalist’s falsettos with a passionate delivery.  Fusing both their styles together, “Seasons,” embodies their overall dynamic sound and unrelentlessly changing moods. The track begins acoustically then welcomes you back with their heavy assault; this pattern is repeated throughout the track and album as a whole.

A Hope For Home have sharpened their craft early on in their career and demonstrate that they are both conceptually and musically profound. Soaring choruses, rich textures, and amiable synthesizers mixed with fierce vocals construct the heartfelt foundation of Realis. A Hope For Homet take everything fans love about hardcore music and blend it with soothing and melodic instrumentals. The more tender moments may not appeal to the conventional hardcore fan but rest assured, when they are heavy, they deliver.

Score: 9/10

Review written by: Nerissa Judd

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