There is a likely chance that you have never heard of Sacramento, California based post hardcore revivalists Hail The Sun. Before their 2012 EP Elephantitis made an unexpected internet splash, Hail the Sun had more fellow musicians endorsing their technical brand of post hardcore than they did fans.
Friendships with fellow Sacramento bands such as Dance Gavin Dance and A Lot Like Birds gave Hail The Sun much deserved national exposure over the past two years as tour mates. With a steady fan base now established, the band’s proper full-length debut Wake did not fly under the radar with its Sept. 23 release.
Wake draws on much of the inspiration that gave Elephantitis high replay value for internet music nerds in the twenty-six months since its release. Hail the Sun’s formula disregards pop leanings utilized by many of their contemporaries. Riddled with time signatures and math-infused intricacies, the sound favored by the Sacramentans is more depth-centric than accessible.
Aside from Hail The Sun’s adept musicianship, much of their appeal derives from existentialist storytelling by drummer and vocalist Donovan Melero. With simplistic lyrics, Melero creates a juxtaposing, complex aura with his soaring voice. Each track on Wake tells a story that draws on themes of the human experience of life, such as death, addiction, disbelief, and heartbreak, giving the whole a more personal touch than past efforts.
Wake is structured in a fashion that allows for moments like such to shine. The first five tracks offer a sound not very much unlike Elephantitis, brimming with uptempo energy. The listener is not unsatisfied by this, but the album becomes a true work of art in its rollercoaster second half.
Sixth track “Cosmic Narcissism” explodes into a tale of interpersonal frustration and substance abuse more resonant than previous tracks.
“Relax/Divide” follows, as a departure from Hail The Sun’s typical math-driven guitar riff and drum blast frenzies in an earnest attempt to address such heartbreak. Melero finds his range floating over airy guitar notes stripped of their usual crunch, revealing a more sensitive side with naïve lyrics such as “Post college daydreams on ivy, learning your curves in the bed.”
The tempo changes incited continue throughout the latter half of play, giving Wake a long-lasting thematic impression. Utmost guitar wizardry is displayed on eighth track “Disappearing Syndrome”. Later an unexpected acoustic track in “Jane Doe” sets up the supersonic, funk-addled funeral blues on closing cut “Anti-Eulogy (I hope you stay dead)”.
Wake plays to Hail The Sun’s strengths without being conservative. The album will feed their spastic live shows. Without being a complete departure from Hail The Sun’s previous efforts, Wake is a thought-provoking full-length debut that tackles enough thematic ambition to be worth repeated listens.