Hawthorne Heights – Fragile Future

Band: Hawthorne Heights

Album: Fragile Future

Genre: Rock/ Post Hardcore

Label: Victory


1. The Business of Paper Stars
2. Rescue Me
3. Somewhere In Between
4. Until The Judgment Day
5. Somewhere In Between
6. Sugar in The Engine
7. Desperation
8. Four Become One
9. 231
10. Disaster
11. Let Go of Everything You Know
12. Corps of Corpses
13. Come Back Home [Reprise]

If you can find one more who has been through more in the last few years than Hawthorne Heights and made it out still together as a band, I’d be shocked. From very public lawsuits, to losing a member to an unexpected death while on tour last year; Hawthorne Heights has weathered it all and now they bring us their long awaited thrid album. Fragile Future, a title meant to reflect the fragility not only of individual life, but our planet as a whole, finds the band grown up and trying out a more rock driven sound. There’s still those elements that make them Hawthorne Heights [minus the screaming], but this time, HH seems to have a lot more to showcase and we at UTG were more than willing to give them an ear to speak to.

Fading in from static, “The Business of Paper Stars,” comes rocking through the speakers with classic, driving, Hawthorne Heights song structure. To me, this is genius because it shows long time fans that the band hasn’t changed too much since last time around. The verses seem more driven than before and the near fist pumping inducing chorus and gang vocals are like icing on a long awaited cake. Lyrically, things have climbed from tales of love and loneliness to a much more metaphorical and deep state. This was very welcomed as so many bands in this genre seem to get caught up in what works, but HH have stepped outside their comfort zone and found success. Next up is the flawless single, “Rescue Me.” The build up to the verse just sinks into your bloodstream and JT’s vocal work is one of the most recognized in the industry, but that’s only because it’s unforgettable. The chorus here is like crack for music fans and the the chugging/accent driving verses will make old fans very happy. “Until The Judgement Day,” is the first more rock driven track HH delivers. The guitar work is a bit more technical and the production helps to make the band sound very epic in proportion. Instead of jumping higher vocally in the chorus, JT stays at a moderate tone and sells the song as a more grounded rock song that would easily fit on any rock station.

My personal favorite track is number four, which is entitled, “Somewhere in Between.” The drum lead in sounds so raw and the guitar work, while simple, just rocks you to your core. It’s near dance enducing, but not in a Danger Radio/White Tie Affair sense. No, this is more about the beat jsut being so perfect you bob along and want to chant every line. Lyrically, the song is a little weak, but everything else covers that fact quite well as the song simply absorbs you. However, the album loses all momentum on, “Sugar In The Engine,” which feels more like a rough cut of a track than a completed idea. The track just drags on with epic sounds, but nothing that really sucks you in. I was really let down because everything does sound huge and still, nothing really stands out except a spoken word part at the end about the death of Casey. The rock then picks up for, “Desperation.” This is another more rock driven song for the band and it works pretty okay. Overall, not the best song on the album, but solid regardless.

The first song written after their guitarist, Casey Calvert, was found dead on their bus [mentioned earlier on the album], “Five Becomes Four,” is a song sure to live on for quite some time. It was originally debuted acoustically back in December, but this version is just tear enducing. I was honestly moved by this track this first time and every time that followed. Following this emotional track is, “231,” a song featuring great guitar and drum work. Though it showcases the more rock driven sound, this sounds like classic Hawthorne Heights to me. Instantly catchy and makes you want to move your feet. “Disaster” seems to struggle with timing and which direction the band wants to go. There is a beautiful piano style bridge though that should not be missed for anything. I think on a lot of the album, the highlights of a new HH sound can be found in the bridge portions which is great ebcause it’s like a mini tease of what’s to come.

The final set of songs begins great with, “Let Go of Everything,” a mainstream rock driven track with emo lyrics. “These daggers and the swords/can’t cut me like the words from you lips.” Yea, that pretty much somes up the lyrical work on this track. However, the guitar work is pretty advanced for the band and the use of harmonies is very great. Also, teens will latch onto the hook like no one’s business: “you’re not the last girl or the first to tell me I should go straight to hell.” We then encounter another musical letdown with, “Corps of Corpses.” The song starts with very deep synth tones and JT’s soft voice, but then breaks out into a hard rock laced track. It feels really generic though different for the band. I just feel they could push themselves a bit more here than they did. This then leads into the closer, “Come Back Home [Reprise],” which is a surprisingly upbeat track. This si a classic HH style song both musically and lyrically, but it feels so good just to hear this sound once again. The music does slow for a repetitious bridge, but it has this light drum roll which leads into pulsing tom work that is just amazing. This a band that can’t really be too epic, but HH have reached those cliffs and the pull it off quite well. Even the closing bit, which mixes a track from the last labum with strings/paino/and synth work is truly gorgeous. This is the kind of sound the band has always strvied to attain and it’s very, very well done.

I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but Hawthorne Heights are back! Fragile Future, though it has a few problems, is a big step forward for this band. Lyrically, they still have some work, but it’s growing quite well. Musically, well in this department they show the most and best growth. Even the songs that feel like the older style HH have some extra elements that jsut give it a fresh shine. I thought the bandslast release, If Only You Were Lonely was the best they could do, but this album tells you that we’ve not seen anything yet. Even if you disliked them before, pick up Fragile Future and give it a chance, I think you’ll be pleasently surprised.

*Written By: James Shotwell*

GRADE: 8/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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