Review: “Decline. Despair. Decay.” by The Hope Burden (5th Anniversary)

Oxford’s The Hope Burden first appeared on our radar when then took to the stage at Rabidfest in November 2021 with a set that found them blurring the lines between Post-Hardcore, Sludge and Black Metal in spellbinding fashion. Vocalist Josh Day, bassist Ryan Thornton, drummer Phil Platt and guitarists Neil Brewer and Jason Smalley had formed the band back in 2016 and have since  trodden the boards with Raging Speedhorn, Napalm Death and Hacktivist as well as playing Bloodstock Open Air Festival having won the 2019 Metal 2 the Masses competition. Their sophomore EP in “Abandonment // I Want To Be Well” which followed in 2022 is stunning so we return to debut “Decline. Despair. Decay.” for its fifth anniversary…

Recorded at Stytetone Music Production in  Daventry, engineered and produced by Pete Gardner and accompanied by artwork from Jason Trevaskis the EP comprises a trio of cuts spamming 22 minutes of pure catharsis. An atmosphere of eerie tension builds from the start of “Decline“, a harrowing vocal narrative from Josh Day about falling into the arms of anxiety and depression accompanied by Botch and Isis inspired riffs. It’s a brave decision to begin a debut EP with a nine minute magnum opus but when you have the style, grace and musicianship to carry it off like this it’s a no brainer. Mid track the band drop off to a darkly meloncholic meandering and quite beautiful instrumental passage that feels like a moment of clarity with a dull ache before unleashing caustic hell with Black Metal blast beats from Platt and larynx threatening screams of pure anguish from Day. The waves of emotion are mesmerising, something that you would usually expect to find emanating from frostbitten Scandinavian and not leafy Oxford which is testament to the bands influences, passion,  energy and musicianship to create something bold and breathtaking. Delicate and intricate “Despair” rises from the aftermath with Day’s caustic lament over mournful melodic atmospheric riffs in captivating fashion. His willingness to expose his true feelings on the lyrics is bold and brave, the heartache contained with the lines being something that you can feel the weight of as it draws you in. The final moments raise the temperature with blast beats to create a crescendo of sound, cleverly building a bridge that allows “Decay” to start with a slow burn. Its dark melodies keep the fires burning with a sinister undertone before an almost DJent inspired finale brings forth a weight of darkness hitherto unheard as the lament builds into something monsterous [8.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Decline
  2. Despair
  3. Decay

Decline. Despair. Decay.” by The Hope Burden is out now and available over at bandcamp.

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