Review: The Color Morale – Know Hope [Album]

By ajcolores

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Rise Records are one of the best (and I’d say my favourite) US metal labels around. Representing the crème de la crème of metalcore in particular, I was therefore happy to take on The Color Morale and their latest release Know Hope. The Illinois quintet are on their 3rd full length under Rise and have all the elements that I love in a metal band - big melodies, crunching riffs, power and emotion. Having recently headed out on the label's annual tour alongside Crown The Empire and headliners Like Moths To Flames, the competition for a band like this begins at home. For a metalcore band to stand out nowadays is nigh-on impossible unless you pioneered the genre (Killswitch Engage) or have started to push boundaries (Bring Me The Horizon).

The twelve tracks on Know Hope get off to a strong start with the visceral power of 'Burn Victims'. I love the big soaring chorus melody and throaty breakdown. Lead vocalist Garret Rapp has such a great set of pipes and can easily switch between an aggressive and clean vocal. The singer is joined by guitarist’s Devin King and Aaron Saunders whilst bass and drumming duty falls with Justin Hieser and Steve Carey respectively. The hardcore energy of 'Smoke and Mirrors' is a great contrast with Garret’s broad melodic refrains – “Say the word and I will go quickly to a light. Too much of any one thing at a time will leave you blind” His soulful lilt reminds me of former Dance Gavin Dance/Emarosa frontman Jonny Craig.

'Silver Lining' is a rabid beast of a track, not giving you a moment to breathe. With guttural screams and doomy riffs, it actually hurts! Whereas I really like the flow of 'Learned Behavior' with the verses and their jagged riffs being a great contrast to the "ooh-ooh" ethereal backing vocals in the bridges. And the chorus is big; the frontman easily reaching a higher range in his warm tone (“Come to me with anything that you'll ever need! Come to me when you're rebuilding”) 'Living Breathing Something' is simply ok. Its formulaic metalcore style is a little worn, as I also found with 'Hole Hearted' despite some great vocal moments.

WATCH // The Color Morale - 'Learned Behavior'

A stand out is 'Steadfast'. I love the journey that the album’s longest track takes you on - switching to and fro from heavy, relentless metal and melodic, atmospheric post-hardcore. The soft xylophone notes are also a nice touch as it lets you know gently that it’s coming to an end. It definitely has a more epic sound than the rest, giving you the musical equivalent of a passionate embrace where others, simply a peck on the cheek. 'Saviorself' is probably equally ambitious, going that one step further to be memorable. While I found that 'Strange Comfort' and 'In Light In Me' are both great, but I wanted to love them more.

Know Hope is therefore a real mixed bag of brilliant and routine metalcore for me. When it's good, it's really good but when it's not, it's a little forgettable. With an abundance of bands of this style, The Color Morale need to focus less on getting the breakdowns well, down and more on creating something original. There are glimmers of it and overall it's another decent Rise release helped along hugely by a glowing vocal performance.

Know Hope is out now

Worth listening to:
  • Burn Victims
  • Learned Behavior
  • Steadfast
  • Saviorself

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