REVIEW: Hostage Calm – ‘Die on Stage’

hostage calm

Artist: Hostage Calm
Album: Die on Stage
Label: Run For Cover Records
Genre: Punk, Alternative

There are a lot of bands that come and go in the music scene, and rarely make a mark of any kind. Most bands like to think that they are “different” and “special,” but let’s be honest, they usually are not. A few years back when I first saw Hostage Calm, I really did not get “it.” A lot of people really liked them to an extreme degree, and I felt like I was on the outs in a way. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right place in time. However when the band released Please Remain Calm, something inside of me clicked. Hostage Calm were a band that were really trying something different, and successfully bringing a different style of punk and pop to a relatively boring, oversaturated scene. Calm’s followup, Die on Stage, while lopsided, is a solid entry in the ever-growing catalog of one of my favorite bands making music today.

Die on Stage’s five of the first six tracks are certified bangers. Every single song feels uniquely its own, while still feeling cohesively a part of the record. “When You Know” kicks off the record at a very quick pace, introducing a lot of the elements of this record that will continue with you for the 32-minute runtime. May it be the joyful xylophone accenting the songs, or the ripping guitar solos, Hostage Calm kick into full gear right off the bat, and set the bar extremely high for the rest of the record. Optimism and joy seems to be an overarching theme throughout this entire record, not just lyrically, but musically as well. In my first play-through of Die on Stage, I could not wipe the smile off my face. “Love Against!” makes me feel like I literally can do anything, while “Fallen Angel” begs me to sing along. Hostage Calm proves they truly know how to write a pop-infused punk record. Honestly, there are points on this record where I feel like the songs could be the background to a teen comedy, which I think is in part due to the youthful hopefulness that bleeds out of these songs. Some of you may look at my “teen comedy” comment as a negative comparison, but you’re wrong. These tracks are the Hostage Calm I love, not because they sound like songs they’ve done before, but because they showcase really smart songwriting.

However, the issue that I have with this record is the track order. Because of how Die on Stage is put together, the first half of this record is hit after hit, but then comes to a grinding halt with “Raised.” The first six tracks (with the exception of the incredibly repetitive “Someone Else”) are wonderfully upbeat, and set a tone that the last four tracks just don’t really know how to keep up with. Trust me, I love Vinnie Caruana just as much as the next guy, but the featured vocal on here doesn’t make much sense to me at all. The last four tracks are all weighted on the slower end of the spectrum, and makes the record anticlimactic. Honestly, I find myself turning off the record after the first six tracks, because the mood Die on Stage successfully puts me in essentially disappears, which is pretty jarring to say the least. “12/31” sounds like something that should go on the No Sleep Til Christmas comp, which again, seems out of place, and “Past Ideas of the Future” builds up to what I think is supposed to be something huge, but instead, shrinks away from what could be a really powerful moment, which again, is disappointing considering how strong the first half of the record was. These songs feel more like filler than anything else, which shouldn’t happen considering they bookend the record.

All in all, I think Die On Stage is a solid effort by Hostage Calm, but falls victim to a strange track order. The record doesn’t feel as cohesive as Please Remain Calm, meaning, Please Remain Calm feels like a focused effort, while Die on Stage starts to feel like it has that same cohesion, then drops the ball. When you’re a band that demonstrates that they know how to write a really catchy song, it’s hard not to be disappointed when things just don’t come together. However, the first half of this record will stick with me for the months to come, and will undoubtedly bring smiles to my face exactly when I need them.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Tyler Osborne

Tyler Osborne

Live in DC, grew up in PA. I specialize in writing, filming and taking pictures about punk, pop-punk, and hardcore music, and I also have a huge background in film as well. When not on the site, i'm running my own internet radio show, ToZ's Edge Radio ( I also love stage diving and goldfish.
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