"Life in Ruin" (Metal Blade; 2003)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

If Hope Dies have got their metalcore stance perfected, as "Life in Ruin" aptly exhibits this Upstate NY quintet’s brutal brushstrokes. 

From dead-on screaming vocals that run with blood to the chugga-chugga guitar goodness found strewn about the entire 11-track disc, songs like “Time is Not on Our Side” denote an outfit content on spewing forth hearty dollops of venomously vitriolic verse with the proper helpings of pounding rhythms and metallic melody in tow, whipping the pit into a frenzy. 

Merging the East Coast’s slash and burn style a la Hatebreed with shards of Swedish technicality, "Life in Ruin" is an album capable of creating utter chaos.

For more information visit http://www.ifhopedies.com/

"The Ground is Rushing Up to Meet Us" (Ironclad Recordings; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Metalcore upstarts If Hope Dies have been at it since 1998 and 2003 marks the release of their sophomore album "The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us" on Ironclad Recordings.

Back in the day, I didn't like the merging of hardcore and metal at first listen. For various reasons the 'metalcore' genre never appealed to me – and in many ways it still does not. But the style has become nearly ubiquitous and I have unwittingly become more familiar with the genre. I've learned to appreciate what the genre has to offer and can listen to bands like If Hope Dies and their predecessors without too much effort. 

If Hope Dies' "The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us" deftly combines hardcore and a whole host of metallic influences for a balanced attack. The problem is that I simply couldn't get into it. I tried multiple times over the course of three months to like "The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us." My efforts were not rewarded. So, gentle reader, take my two and a half chainsaws rating with a grain of salt.

Some of the song titles on "The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us" border on the humorous, but close inspection of the lyrics reveals that If Hope Dies is very serious about the subject matter of their material. And no doubt the gruff and serious (and somewhat one-dimensional) vocals adds to the seriousness of the band.

I like the energetic approach on "The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us," but I think If Hope Dies has a bit more to go before finding their own unique and distinctive sound. In other words, If Hope Dies should not remain in the underground for too long – there is a metalcore fanbase that is itching to hear more bands like If Hope Dies. As such, I can heartily recommend that fans of metal based hardcore seek out If Hope Dies' "The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us."

"The Ground Is Rushing Up To Meet Us" was recorded by Ken Susi.

If Hope Dies is Alan on vocals, Thad and Fred on guitars, Gary on bass, and Brandon on drums.

For more information visit http://www.ifhopedies.com/

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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