As “Exordium,” the intro to Hope for the Dying‘s latest album Dissimulation, started rolling, I wondered, just what is Hope for the Dying? I had never heard of them until I was given the task to review their newest album, their first with Facedown Records. The description given to me was of a band who was influenced by acts such as Iron Maiden and Unearth, but that still didn’t give me a solid idea as to what Hope for the Dying was supposed to be. The mention of 80s metal (a genre I’m not particularly fond of) didn’t exactly raise my anticipation for this record. However, when I finally did give it a listen I was pleasantly surprised. Dissimulation is a collection of songs that shows off mastery over the metalcore genre, by mixing jawdropping technicality and fast metalcore.
It is clear from the beginning of Dissimulation that this record isn’t going to be just anyone’s favorite record. This album is directed toward fans of a more technical kind of metal, but no matter what genre of music you are into, it’s hard to not appreciate the talent that the band has. The soaring guitar solos and sweeps along with the synth blasts may sound kind of cheesy on paper, but they manage to blend together perfectly to create a movie-like feel (albeit they still maintain their cheesiness).
Some of the songs may be somewhat intimidating; after all, 7 minute-long metal epics aren’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but songs like “Transcend” are able to keep listeners entertained thanks to its constant changes in tempo, and its original take on the metalcore genre (seriously, that jazz-like break towards the end of the song is tremendously creative).
One of the main things that appeals to me in this record is Hope for the Dying’s fresh take on an oversaturated genre. Dissimulation flows in a way that is very reminiscent of a movie soundtrack, with the keyboards bringing a magnificent feel to the record. “Perpetual Ruin” features some extremely solid keyboard work that flawlessly switches from a medieval battlefield-like keyboard part to a classical style piano sequence.
The main problem with the album comes with its over-the-top sound. A lot of the songs on Dissimulation display incredible musicianship, but sometimes it can become a little too much. The solos can get somewhat ridiculous, and the keyboards seem out of place at times. However the most unappealing aspect is the lyrics, which reference epic medieval battles and mythological creatures(“The Awakening,” “The Awakening: Dissimulation,”and “The Awakening: The Veil, Lifted” are perfect examples of this). In turn this makes the lyrics seem more suited for a fan of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) than a music aficionado. The only thing that is able to bring up the lyrics is the fact that they blend with the music to create something of a theme for the album, and as I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for themes.
Hope for the Dying isn’t for everyone; they’re more the kind of band you listen to every once in a while to remind yourself what talent sounds like. Outside of that spectrum, however, chances are that unless you’re really into the technical metalcore genre, Dissimulation won’t be on heavy rotation with you.
I do however have to commemorate the band. While the album is somewhat cheesy, it has brought back reminders of what metalcore is supposed to be; as the name implies, it is a mix of metal and hardcore. This is something most “metalcore” bands seem to forgetting as of late, but it’s something that Hope for the Dying knows very well.