Connecticut hardcore, no matter how great it is, always seems to get overshadowed by the nearby bustling Massachusetts (particularly Boston) hardcore scene. In fact, oftentimes people just consider them to be one in the same. This is unfortunate because over the years the state of Connecticut has churned out a plethora of stellar bands: Hatebreed, Dead Wrong, Sum of All Fears, In Pieces, With Honor, Death Threat, Ambitions, Hamartia, Blood Has Been Shed, Fear Tomorrow, Palehorse, Unforgiven, and so forth.
Hostage Calm is latest band emerge from the Connecticut hardcore scene. Formed from the ashes of the short-lived ska-core band At All Costs, Hostage Calm are heavily influenced by the post-hardcore movement of the 90’s - not a surprise given their name comes for a Quicksand song.
Lens follows up the band’s highly regarded demo with eleven tracks of melodic hardcore/post-hardcore goodness. From the beginning intro of “In So Many Words…” through the final track “Pushing the Paradigm,” Hostage Calm is at the top of their game. Following the intro the band launches into “Audible.” The four-minute track - something rather out of the norm to punk rock lately - is the perfect album opener. The guitars of Tom Chiari are crisp and clean. They partner with the rhythm section of Brett Pieper and Tim Casey for an upbeat melodic hardcore sound not unlike With Honor or Dag Nasty.
Vocalist Chris Martin matches the intensity with soaring harmonies and the occasional yells. Lyrically, Martin speaks all that is on his mind, which can deal with personal demons, political situations, and social topics. He covers a lot of ground and is well versed in constructing his thoughts, something that we saw a lot of in the 90’s that has fallen off lately.
Hostage Calm pave their way through Lens one track at a time. For the most part the album is filled with straightforward melodic hardcore meets post-hardcore sounds. For example, “Gaslighting” features some stellar guitar work, including a nice Quicksand-inspired groove section mid-way through; then Chiari wails his way to the end. The band mixes things up though. “(I’m Left With All These) Holes” is one of the more loosely written songs structure-wise and brings to mind the early Dischord catalog. “400,000” is quite reminiscent of the style of pop-punk bands like Shook Ones are churning out as of late. “Lacuna (Where Certainty Sleeps)” contains a bridge section that with guitar noodling that pays homage to Texas is the Reason. Closer “Pushing the Paradigm” is aggressive and furious, an excellent closer.
While not as aggressive as some of their peers in the hardcore community, Hostage Calm take the time to craft well-written songs with actual lyrical content. Lens is a great record, one that will hopefully garner them the attention they deserve.
8.5 / 10
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