If of a sensitive disposition than stay clear of the new self titled EP from hardcore/metalcore band In Place Of Hope. Though it does not neglect the melodic and cleaner side of metal it first with no compulsion to be nice obliterates defences and stretches the ear to extremes. It does at times with an out stretched hand offer to pick one up again but only to allow it to knock ten bells out of its victim all over again. The release is a formidable trio of songs which whilst not turning over new rocks for the genre kicks them around the place with impressive skill.
Formed in 2010 down in Southampton, the quartet of Matt Dennison (Vocals), Russ Barnes (Lead Guitar), Rob Arthur (Vocals/Guitar), Dave Sands (Bass), and Mike Hill (Drums) took an inspiration influenced by the likes of Parkway Drive, Bring Me the Horizon Alexisonfire, and Killswitch Engage and twisted it into their own aggressive and impressive sound. 2011 saw the band matching and upstaging the likes of Evita, Giants, Odessa, Despite My Deepest Fear, and Brotherhood of the Lake in gigs across the South of England, all the while accumulating strong respect and notice further afield. With the release of their EP it is hard to imagine they will not be taking larger and swifter steps up the metal ladder as more fall beneath its thunderous might.
Obviously not a band with an ounce of mercy or desire to take it easy on people within them, In Place of Hope attacks the senses like a tornado from the off with the brilliant Lifelines. The song instantly became a favourite for song of the year with the barrage of violent drums and monstrous riffs that leaves one shell shocked. Many songs do this but once the sinister infectious groove begins to wind itself around the heart, the satanic growls spray venom with every syllable and the clean vocals swarm eagerly all over the debris, the song rises to majestic and impervious to complaint. The drums stomp all over the senses with obvious delight whilst the guitars play with the damaged goods left and it is so satisfying. The song has everything to make it a permanent fixture in all metal hard hearts and sets the band alone ahead of the plethora of emerging metalcore bands.
After such an impressive start there had to be a drop in levels or even intensity. Maybe there is but it is hardly note worthy, the remaining explosions of Bridges and Dark Roads & White Knuckles more than capable of holding their own. The first opens with just clean vocals and guitar to bring a frown but within a few breaths the song erupts into more splintered intense riffs and captivating melodies. The mix of growls and clean vocals favour the latter more in contrast to the opener but the band brings them both together in a defined and seamless mix which many bands struggle to understand or do. The song as does the latter of the two shows the expansive sound and ability within the songwriting and vision of the band and though no song offers anything brand new to leave one awe struck you know it will come, that In Place Of Hope have all the armoury and creativity.
As Bridges closes with sparkling melodic guitars winding down, Dark Roads & White Knuckles muscles its way in with stirring riffs and commanding rhythms. The show is less brutal than the opener despite the bitterly harsh growls, well that is until the band cannot hold back any longer and unleash a thunderous assault bombarding the ear with heavy artillery that breaks knees ability to stand. Once out of their system the band resumes the original intent the song started with, again it is seamless and the switching back and forth exhilarating.
Lifelines may lead the way and set the pace on the EP but overall it is an impressively solid and deeply satisfying release that ensures In Place of Hope have the attention of everyone.