It’s been almost 11 years since HOPESFALL released their last album Magnetic North and since 2008 there has been a massive HOPESFALL void left the metal scene that no other band could quite replace. Luckily the band reformed last year and have recorded Arbiter, their incredible comeback album. There is a clear evolution which has happened here, immediately you can recognise the classic HOPESFALL sound and frontman Jay Forrest’s distinct vocals, but Arbiter sounds like HOPESFALL 2.0. It’s a bit like what you always wanted the band to achieve, it has the ambition and progressive sensibilities of Magnetic North and the melodic approach of A Types, which makes for a winning combination. This release has a bigger sound, bigger production and bigger songs. HOPESFALL aren’t going to sneak back onto the scene quietly, they’re going to crash in and show the youngsters how it’s done.
Things get off to a raucous start with Faint Object Camera. Definitely one of the ‘rawer’ HOPESFALL songs vocally, it is a bit of a serious affair but one with massive impact. I was half expecting A Types style quirky riffs, but instead I got a HELL IS FOR HEROES-cum-DEFTONES vibe which is equally as glorious. Second track H.A. Wallace Space Academy is a lot more ‘classic’ HOPESFALL but with an added GASLIGHT ANTHEM-esque twist to proceedings. Forrest is back in business with his big melodies and big screams with the last minute sounding a tad more DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL/JIMMY EAT WORLD than usual, but stick with it as this mix is very rewarding.
If you are desperate for something a bit more old school HOPESFALL then look no further than Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the verse wouldn’t sound out of place on A Types with its twinkly riffs and Forrest’s vocal approach. The chorus entertains the newer style but the spacey riffs soar. I Catapult is another spectacular example of stratospheric rock. Its delicate notes somehow perfectly reflect the artwork. There is a sense of weightlessness in the sun-drenched riffs. You can imagine the pure light you witness when you’re at great heights. When the sun kicks in it is HOPESFALL at their best, one of the album highlights so far.
Tunguska is an emotive track of huge proportions. It has a glorious old school sound, not necessarily HOPESFALL but it sounds like early noughties era rock which has been brought kicking and screaming into 2018. Brooding riffs and a chorus which lapses into a mammoth TAKING BACK SUNDAY-esque passage. This is special stuff. The same could be said for Drowning Potential which is another intense track that would appease old HOPESFALL fans. Angry, fast-paced then oddly soothing, this track matches the intensity and pacing of Magnetic North.
We are suddenly at the penultimate song of Arbiter and HOPESFALL keep our attention with the brilliant To Bloom, which could easily be the album opener. It has that wholesome sound and features all that the band have to offer, from the big choruses, the intense screaming and the twinkly riffs and spacey guitars. It nicely settles down to the album finale Indignation and the Rise of the Arbiter which proves to be one of the most melodic songs on the album. A soothing and blissful track, it continues HOPESFALL’s spacey musical odyssey. The melodies and whispers hark back to the glory days of A Types which satisfyingly wraps up the HOPESFALL nostalgia for the album. Arbiter certainly is not A Types Part 2 or Magnetic North Part 2. This is a different beast entirely and the sound of an experienced band evolving and coming back with a bang. Let’s hope this time they stick around!