Portland, OR's own A Hope For Home returns for the third time in four years with Facedown to bring us their latest effort, In Abstraction, a record that subverts expectations to bring a listening experience unlike anything else on the label by far (which, depending on your tastes, may or may not be a good thing). Regardless, however, this record does require you to give it some time. Not only does it contain just seven tracks within its 51 minutes running time, but they all tend to move at the same dreamlike pace, making this a record I can't recommend popping in your car stereo on your daily commute. No, this is a work that requires your full attention to appreciate, and one that, for best results, ought to be taken in in one sitting. [Note: In the full retail release, there is an accompanying DVD to watch while you listen to In Abstraction. I didn't have access to it at the time of this review, but I can only imagine it enhances the listening experience tenfold, judging by the nature of the music.]
OK, I'll admit it. I wasn't too terribly excited about this record when I first tried to give it a listen; I expected something like "The Machine Stops" from Realis, which I'd heard on a Facedown sampler not too long ago. Needless to say, I was stopped in my tracks by how long these songs took to get in gear! The first ten seconds of every song seemed to sound exactly the same, and when they did pick up, I kept waiting and waiting for an explosive moment… that never came. So I set it aside for a while, until one night, when I decided to put it on as I was getting to bed. That made the difference.
I say all that to say this: You will be bored to tears if you go into this record expecting your head to bob and your toes to tap. Save it for a time when you need to be soothed and swept away by lush, cinematic instrumentation that takes its time to wrap you up in its story, a time when your music isn't just serving as background noise. The screamed vocals of Nathan Winchell are still there, as well as the distant clean harmonies that have served as the hallmarks of AHFH's sound. Only this time around, they've turned up the Isis influence to go along with the As Cities Burn and the traces of Underoath. The brilliant guitar work of Matthew Ellis and Tanner Morita has many places to take you, if only you'll open yourself up to it; the rhythm section helps create the mood and lays the ambient foundation that allows the melodies to shine within its context. In short, this is not a record that commands your attention, but once you have given it, In Abstraction will take you on an epic journey unlike anything its contemporaries have to offer.
Long road trips, bedtime, rainy days -- anytime you can sit down and give In Abstraction your full attention, it will reward you handsomely. It's not the most accessible record in the world, but it's one that can be appreciated far beyond the scope of the metal-death-whatever-core most heavy record labels are mass-producing nowadays. A Hope For Home's evolution has brought them to a fine point thus far, because this Abstraction is a work of art in every sense of the word.- Review date: 12/8/11, written by Steven Powless of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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