Change is inevitable. Yet, we don’t always accept change, and you’ll notice it when musical artists make drastic alterations in sound. The newest example is Hundredth, who has joined the shoegaze revival with Rare. They’ve ultimately divided their fanbase between those happy and upset with their progressions, but it doesn’t take away from what they’ve accomplished with their new record. Not only is the band’s venture into styles outside of hardcore a huge step up from 2015’s Free, but it’s also a gem that’s equally surprising and pleasing.
The band recently chose their most “unexpected” albums of all-time, which displayed a parallel while simultaneously showing why they changed their sound. Imagine listening to The Cure’s Disintegration and Radiohead’s Kid A but then opting for melodic hardcore along the lines of Architects and Counterparts. You’d probably get tired of it after three full-lengths. Shoegaze is back in style in 2017 — and for good reason. Distorted guitars and echoed vocals have never sounded better than now: a period of soulless radio and generic heavy music. By incorporating an atmospheric shoegaze dynamic to their sound, Hundredth has turned straightforward hardcore into aesthetically enticing post-hardcore.
The most impressive thing about the change is that the band has hardly lost any of their previous energy. In standout tracks like “Neurotic” and “Hole”, the crash of drums and enormous waves of guitar melodies hit the listener square in the face. While a few of his wholesome screams would’ve been welcome, vocalist Chadwick Johnson is still piercing enough to make an impact with his whispered singing approach. In those two songs, aggressive melodies and huge hooks mesh seamlessly. “Disarray” sounds like a modern blend of Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine, while “Suffer” mimics the rise and fall of the ocean with its shimmering guitars and booming chorus.
Hundredth also uses atmosphere to their advantage. The verses of “Youth” are filled with layers of reverb, and the backdrop of “Shy Vein” is defined by ambient strokes reminiscent of Pygmalion-era Slowdive. It’s in the details where the outfit truly shines, as their focus on textures brings out a form of musical incursion that’s both vigorous and versatile. “White Squall” showcases their ability to transition between loud and quiet like a pack of veterans. They’re even able to follow fast-picked guitar echoes with a breakdown and light screams on “Down”. The group clearly understands the big similarity between hardcore and shoegaze: simple, yet big riffs. By making them more interesting with distortion and effects, their progression feels natural across a full 46 minutes.
Doing the same thing over and over gets old, and Hundredth’s drastic identity shift is a result of complacency. Similar to what Turnover’s Peripheral Vision did in 2015 for emo/indie rock, Rare is another shoegaze-inspired progression for a band that previously stuck to genre conventions. Change has the potential for both enticement and execution, and the Carolina hardcore quartet’s fourth LP provides both in spades. In the biggest surprise of 2017 thus far, Hundredth has shed their outdated hardcore skin and revealed a colorful new coat.
Post-Hardcore | Hopeless Records