I have a lot of respect for any artist who has the guts to completely facelift their style, especially if they had been performing their prior style for years. You don’t see a lot of bands try this; most get content with a certain style or genre and stick with it for most of their career. Maybe that’s because you risk the stylistic jump simply not working, or you risk losing the fans who have stuck with you for years, and you often times will see bands lose their established fan base after a major stylistic shift. As an artist however, you sometimes feel compelled to take these risks if the style of music you’re playing just isn’t what you want to perform anymore. Such was the case with former metalcore band Hundredth and their latest album, Rare.
Since 2008 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s Hundredth have been performing some of the most forgettable metalcore I have ever heard. This isn’t to say that their music was bad; it simply didn’t stick out from the herd in their scene. They released 3 studio albums and toured relentlessly but none of the members felt creatively satisfied with the direction they were going. A massive change was in order, and change they did.
Rare is, for all intents and purposes, a shoegaze album. It has absolutely zero resemblance to their earlier work, stripping away the metalcore for a sound more influenced by bands like the Smiths, Joy Division, or My Bloody Valentine instead. The album is a mellow, spacey trip. The guitars are noisey and build a wall of sound around the listener without being abrasive. The drums here have some of my favorite drum production I’ve ever heard, no hyperbole. Vocalist Chadwick Johnson has an intoxicating voice that works so perfectly with the soundscape the band have built here. From the opening track “Vertigo” and its Joy Division inspired guitar you are given a perfect introduction to what the rest of this album will be. To put it in the simplest way I can muster, it’s just beautiful.
Of course this is a divisive album for Hundredth’s fan base. Many lament it for departing too far from the sound that got them where they are. Many think it’s too similar to pop punk bands like Turnover or Balance and Composure who also throw in a lot of shoegaze and post punk influence into their recent work. I think going into this album the band realized how risky of an endeavor it would be. They would have to not only transform their sound, but their aesthetics attached to their sound, and a massive change in everything you imagine a band to be like this can scare a lot of people off.
Regardless of how many fans the band may have lost because of this risk, I absolutely love Rare. I think the band pulls off this sound much better than they did metalcore, and you can really tell that this is exactly what the band always wanted to play. There’s a certain passion and love you can hear behind these songs, of a band who honestly believe what they’re writing and aren’t just in it for a paycheck. I think that’s very rare in music, but when it’s there it’s hard to miss. I highly recommend Rare, not just to fans of post punk or shoegaze, but to anyone who wants a mellow but fantastic listening experience.
Check it out here.