Hawthorne Heights: The Silence In Black And White Review

Hawthorne Heights found instant success off one hit single, but this emo band’s impressive debut album shouldn’t be overlooked as a whole either. With pensive guitar riffs, hushed clean vocals for melody and harsh unclean vocals for power, The Silence In Black And White is an incredibly thought-provoking and well-composed work, with enough emotion to make it endearing but also enough post-hardcore verve to please a more hardcore crowd. Each song retains the steady and brooding tone of the album, even when slow guitar chugs and consistent drumming explode into blazing riffs and furious pounding. Frontman JT Woodruff sets the mood with his light-sounding but solemn and often dramatic singing, while the Casey Calvert supplies the throaty and guttural howls that make Hawthorne Heights so well-balanced. The give and take of the vocalists, set to an ever-fluctuating tempo, creates dramatic tension and makes this emo debut such an enjoyable listen.

Standout Tracks

Despite its slightly stalker-ish and morbid theme (“I’m outside of your window with my radio”), “Niki FM” is one of the most dynamic tracks of The Silence In Black And White, featuring not only Calvert’s coarse screams but Woodruff’s escalated wails as well, which accompany Micah Carli’s barrage of angry guitar riffs and Eron Bucciarelli’s booming drums. Matt Ridenour’s brooding bass hook sets the tone for each composed verse, allowing Woodruff’s soft and restrained singing to create the calm before the storm of each chorus.

“The Transition” boasts some the engaging whine of electric guitars, animated drums and Woodruff’s desperate cries of longing, “I won’t let go!” The eccentric and high-pitched whine of guitars serves as the highlight of the song, but its escalation between a reserved and grave tone to energetic and impassioned is just as captivating, displayed best by Woodruff’s many repetitions of “Shine on, diamond eyes.” Like many of Hawthorne Heights’ best songs, “The Transition” focuses largely on the yearning for a distant lover, but its raw sound and indelible liveliness make it even more memorable.

But even though The Silence In Black In White is littered with desperate, emotive and compelling songs, “Ohio Is For Lovers” easily takes the title of best on the album after help paving the way for screamo music’s popularity. As the song that brought Hawthorne Heights all its fame and success, “Ohio Is For Lovers” best summarizes what this band is all about: quiet, pensive verses filled with reserved vocals and soothing guitars that quickly unleash all the torment and urgency of the lyrics in a killer and fast-paced chorus. Calvert’s screams add to the heavy sound of slow guitar-chugging while Woodruff delivers the unforgettable lines of each emo-primed chorus: “And I can’t make it on my own / Because my heart is in Ohio / So cut my wrists and black my eyes / So I can fall asleep tonight or die / Because you kill me.”

The Verdict

Although Hawthorne Heights isn’t the kind of band to make music for the masses because of their post-hardcore sound and teen-centered emo lyrics, The Silence In Black In White is a pretty good album for any hard rock fan to enjoy. Fans of Silverstein, Senses Fail, Aiden, Armor For Sleep, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Alesana, From First To Last and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus should be right at home with this heavy and affecting debut, even if Woodruff’s whiny vocal style and Calvert’s gruff screams may not be fore everyone. However, the exquisite interplay between lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass is too engaging to miss, regardless of vocal preference. This kind of music will appeal to a younger crowd more than anyone, but Hawthorne Heights displays mature songwriting and intelligent composition worthy of recognition for the compelling The Silence In Black And White.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Rank: 1st (four total albums)

Track List

  1. Life On Standby
  2. Dissolve And Decay
  3. Niki FM
  4. The Transition
  5. Blue Burns Orange
  6. Silver Bullet
  7. Screenwriting An Apology
  8. Ohio Is For Lovers
  9. Wake Up Call
  10. Sandpaper And Silk
  11. Speeding Up The Octaves

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