Hostage Calm – “Die On Stage” Album Review
Posted: by Sean Gonzalez
Hostage Calm took a small part of the community by surprise with their last album, Please Remain Calm!. The spirit of eclectic rhythms and snapping drum lines were almost washed away with the heavy influence of pop making its way into the music. The guitars were never anything to be feared, incredibly light and taking background to the vocals. Listening to ‘I Woke Up Next To A Body’ (my favorite off the LP) and I can hear the heavier influences, hell the last part of that song is reminiscent of the breakneck pace the band used to spiral out, but the impact wasn’t as forceful as hearing the song live. The drums have always been an incredible part of their music, keeping the calmer pop approach to new heights with out of nowhere breakneck pacing.
Any gripes aside, the quintet is making pop (and I mean pop) punk their sound, and expand the influence on the new full length, Die On Stage. Immediately one can hear the melodies of both guitars resonating above an audible bass groove. The guitars actually have a perfect mix of distortion, instead of being liquid clear like two years ago. Xylophones appear frequently, adding a sensible and listenable touch to each track. The drums are still scaled back (they lost their drummer in early February), but they help keep the music going forward. There are a few cringe worthy tracks here, but for the most part the album is strong.
Hostage Calm have created a group of tracks that are catchy and more full sounding. ‘When You Know’ kicks off the album, not really showing a deep change from Please Remain Calm!. Catchy chorus, a guitar solo and strong vocal melodies are all parts of the recipe. The second single, ‘A Thousand Miles Away From Here’ is my favorite track of the record, with Cmar showing off a bit of a new vocal approach, raspier and darker. His progress into this new range builds more depth to many of the tracks, but it is the gripping anthem driven chorus that drives this song to memory. The song is over in a blur, but continues the album to ‘Love Against,’ an Xylophone friendly song with a positive beat AND meaning.
That is one thing quintessential about this group, their ability to sound positive and refrain from having a negative approach to many of their issues. “When the walls fall down I’m right there waiting for you” is just one lyric (‘Love Against’) that showcases their pick me up pop punk strategy. Even the darker ‘Someone Else’ digs home the idea that being yourself is the only real way to live life. The over repetitive of ‘Fallen Angel’ is an ode to troops and America, catchy and ever expanding with groups vocals on top of group vocals.
‘Your Head / Your Heart’ is the lead single of the album, showcasing a plethora of instruments helping create a distinct and easy to sing melody. Nothing really shines out here, but after the next track (‘Raised’), we find the ballad ’12/31.’ A song about the new year and forgoing love. The song struck a particular emotional cord for me, immediately connecting me back with the music and message of Hostage Calm. “Can I get a three cheers and a round of beers for the years most broken hearts?”
I raise my glass to you Hostage Calm, for always being there with the cheery music and corruptively catchy vocal lines.