Post-hardcore outfit The Color Morale switched record labels from Rise Records to Fearless Records back in April of 2014. 18 short months after the release of their record Know Hope, the band was released yet another album, Hold on Pain Ends, which when initialized spells out the word “hope”. It’s no surprise that TCM would put out an album with a hopeful message that depicts the many faces of depression and mental illness. One thing to note about the album is that it was released one week before National Suicide Prevention Week, but that very well may be a coincidence.
The band has stated that this album is based upon the stories that they’ve heard from fans in the past and what inspiration they’ve taken from their own lives and experiences. While I’m a big believer of spreading a message of hope, the way bands typically go about it tends to seem a bit ingenuine. Despite not wanting to sound too cynical, I always question whether musicians are actually interested in spreading this message or simply selling the idea. Hold on Pain Ends has its moments in which either of these two theories could be true.
The album opens with the track “Damnaged,” which is introduced by some synths that later mix with guitar parts. Shortly thereafter the vocals kick in and intensify the song. I’m not a big fan of the way the lyrics start off as they are a little too simple and aren’t even remotely close to full sentences: “You did well, devil/Family life/It’s like puzzle pieces disconnected/ Pictures frames will never find/This broken home my demons still reside”. However, once the chorus picks up, the lyrics get significantly better: “Mother, I just needed you to know/Something good grew out from all of the cracks inside our broken home/I am a lonely soul, a kid flying his kite alone/Or am I just a head in the clouds, welcoming wind every time there’s a storm?”
This song is followed by the album’s first single “Outer Demons”. I really enjoy the song’s bridge, “Is this you being yourself or/Acting on part to please someone else/Take a look at your health/Take a look in someone else’s eyes/But don’t deface yourself’.The track’s unclean vocals are different from their usual stuff as they are half sung/ half screamed. This adds an interesting mix to the track. However, I am a bigger fan of the clean vocals in this track. The cleans have a hint of an R&B sound to them and are just gentle enough to combat the harsh sound of the unclean vocals.
Up until this point I’ve mostly spoken about the lyrics and vocals mostly due to the fact that in this album the instrumentation seems to serve as just a background for the vocals. At times while listening to the record I didn’t even really hear the instrumentals because of the vocals. It’s not to say that they’re super silent or non-existent, but they make way for the vocals to be the star. However, the song “Lifeline (Left to Write)” the guitar and drums parts are far more memorable. I won’t say much about the lyrics other than the fact that I wasn’t impressed by them. At times they felt almost nonsensical.
Hold on Pain Ends has some points in which the overall message is far clearer. This is evident in tracks such as “Scar Issue” and “Suicide;Stigma” as the primary focus of these tracks is the message. In the case of “Suicide;Stigma”, the idea of spreading awareness and battling both suicide and other mental health issues is compared to a war. However, the way the message is depicted is a bit generic and has been done to death in the post-hardcore scene. Not to say that this can’t be done well, as can be seen in “Throw Your Roses”. This track seems the most genuine to me with lyrics like”When I look out, I see a field of youth/ and it is filled with doubt/A field of flowers pulling their petals off way too soon. /One by one. Dropping like flies no one is speaking up” . This song doesn’t try to rationalize how people feel or why, but simply explains that mental illness is a real issue that should be dealt with.
Hold on Pain Ends closes with the title track. This song has an acoustic feel to it that ends everything on a hauntingly beautiful note. The main theme is present yet again, through a choir that ends the song. This depicts that this is not the story of one person, but the story of millions.
The Color Morale definitely created an album that will make you cry through Hold on Pain Ends. I wouldn’t call it my favorite, but it gets the job done.