York, PA band HourGlass recently released their debut full-length album, entitled Hope & Desolation. Though the band first released music in 2017 (I See the Light EP), this newest release is the result of six years of playing, writing, and recording music. The band says their influences and sounds spread decades, but have a particular lean to the 60s, 70s, and 90s. You definitely get the feel of a 90s grunge band inspired by the classic rock of years past when listening to the new album. With a fairly sterile rock scene these days, it's nice to see an injection of what made the genre great over the years on display in a modern band. A great example of this fusion is found in "Prison of Broken Hearts." The main riff and musical backdrop carry a grunge feel, but the impressive guitar solo feels like it was ripped right out of a song from the late 70s. It's a nice blend and the two ideas work together nicely. "Petty" also carries a strong vibe from the 60s and 70s in particular. However, the title of the song is more of an homage to Tom Petty than what you would understand the adjective to mean. Many of the lyrics include Tom Petty song titles and lyrics: "We said we won't back down, so where are we now," "Did we get our wings? Did we even try? Sometimes it takes a free fall to learn to fly," and "We are all refugees at the end of the line" are just a few examples of this.
The guitars on the album sound great. The riffs are often nice and chunky, but the leads and solos stand out more than anything. The guitars here are the forefront to a great sounding rock album. Vocally, it could take some getting used to for some, but they work in context. The vocals are certainly more Robert Plant than Chris Cornell, but the band as a whole does a good job of blending two eras of rock. With all of that said, there's nothing here that should exclude rock fans of any era. While the influences are clear and present, the music still manages to feel somewhat modern at the same time. The sound is a throwback, but it still works in present day.
Personally, the album didn't click fully for me on the first listen, but when it did, it was worth it. There's a lot of good music to be found here. As a big Tom Petty fan myself, the appreciation for "Petty" makes it a favorite, but for all-out rocking, "Down & Out" may just be king here. The slide guitar and overall feel of "Nuclear Garden" also make it a standout track as well, with a different sound than most of the album. The goal of HourGlass is to sing about living in this world through the lens of Christianity by being honest. More than anything, Hope & Desolation sets out to show that there is hope in all the things we experience in life -- in both the good and bad. I'd highly recommend this album for all fans of rock music, but if you have a specific favor for the 70s and/or 90s, you could experience a little more enjoyment here. HourGlass has provided my biggest musical surprise of 2021 so far.- Review date: 5/20/21, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
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