The Color Morale – Know Hope (2013)

A lot of people use music as a means to medicate and heal. For many–myself included–there are few things more soothing than getting home after a hellish day at school and putting on one of your favorite albums. Or perhaps it’s the sheer cathartic beauty of using an album you know all the words to as therapy after an intense fight with someone you love, or a demoralizing day at the office. Whether it’s angry or pleasant, pissed and fast or slow and steady, for many people, music is the light at the end of the tunnel or the deep-tissue massage for an aching muscle. For those people, The Color Morale have released an all new set of anthems–a bundle of hope for the whole-heartedly hopeless. The band’s third full-length album, Know Hope, is a lesson in just that–hope. By combining uplifting, uproarious melodies with inspirational, motivational lyrics and pummeling, blisteringly heavy sections, The Color Morale have created a perfect storm of therapeutic metalcore–a reminder that even in a draught of hopelessness and desperation, there can be an oasis of optimism and a source of sanguinity.

It’s not often that music can model “hope” so well as the songs within Know Hope can. However, the driving riffs and perfunctory percussion that permeate the album do just that, and they do it to a tee. Beginning with the first seconds of “Burn Victims,” and especially throughout both singles “Learned Behavior” and “Strange Comfort,” the instrumentation is nothing short of motivational. Guitars wind around each other like vines, creating entire rainforests of lush, green sound. Meanwhile, the drums beat and pound, creating a driving rhythm, almost like Know Hope has a heartbeat. While the album itself doesn’t feature any awe-inspiringly technical drum solos, or any shred-ridden guitar solos, it is still a well-written, beautifully harmonized and supremely melodic masterpiece. Moments like the instrumentation behind the softer moments of “Saviorself,” or the kick-start to the album in “Burn Victims” are a reminder of that. However, while the instruments are often catchy and melodic, they can also be absolutely crushing. The heaviness and no-holds-barred visceral nature of “Silver Linings” is proof of this: demolishing breakdowns waltz hand-in-hand with dark, savage atmosphere to create the sinister side to The Color Morale’s instrumental attach which the album so desperately needed.

Know Hope’s instrumental prowess is outdone only by the sheer vocal presence emanating throughout the entire release.  From the soft crooning which shines on “Saviorself” to the full-blown, Johnny Craig-esque belted singing on “Learned Behavior” and all manners of screams, shouts and bellows in between, The Color Morale show off an incredible vocal range during the entire release. “Never Enders” is exemplary of the enormous variety of screams showcased throughout the album. From a shrieking, sky-scraper of a high scream to a devastatingly low bellowed grunt, including the infamous “blegh!,” The Color Morale truly pull out all the stops on this track­–which is, fittingly, the album’s closer.  Paralleling the true vocal majesty on this album is the lyrical mastery held within Know Hope. The true fire of positivity within this album is held by the lyrics–even on “Silver Linings,” a lyrical masterpiece, in which the climax of the track repeats “Get the Hell away from me; you can still lead a positive life with a negative mind.” Equal lyrical ingenuity is found within the single “Learned Behavior,” which plays up the feeling of finding home in hopelessness and a shelter in even the most oppressive storm.

Where Know Hope truly stands at its fullest and most robust is where the vocal and instrumental elements work together and form a full-bodied dynamic. Moments like the climax of “Learned Behavior,” or all of either “Steadfast” or “Silver Linings” are archetypical of this. When the vocals clear their way through the instrumental clutter in “Learned Behavior,” yelling “I know I’m lost,” or the combination of heavy-hearted and crushing instrumentation and dark, angsty lyrical themes in “Silver Linings” are nothing short of pure song-writing brilliance. The Color Morale are seen doing this more on Know Hope than on either of their previous releases: using an instrumental mood to brilliantly accentuate the lyrics and the vocal attitude. While there are some moments which come across as forced (“Strange Comfort” comes to mind) or perhaps a little contrived, these moments are exceedingly rare, as, more often than not, Know Hope creates idyllic moments of beauty and brilliance, where lyrics and vocals combine with instrumentation and atmosphere to create something which envelops the listener so perfectly, it feels as if a blanket of soul-warming hope and wonder has closed in around their ears, soothing them from the outside in.

Know Hope is just what the listener needs to keep warm in an increasingly cold world.  When it’s getting easier and easier to find ways to get bogged down in hopeless situations and depressing environments, The Color Morale are there. With driving, pulsing instrumentation and inspiring vocals and lyrics, Know Hope has a dynamic which completely warms the listener, providing a positive, entrancing environment. If you find yourself needing an extra push to get yourself out of bed in the morning, or to get yourself through another grueling day, Know Hope is just the fuel you need.

For Fans Of: Kings, Dream On, Dreamer, Hundredth, The Ghost Inside

By Connor Welsh ~ Me Gusta Reviews