The Hope Conspiracy – Death Knows Your Name

The Hope Conspiracy
Death Knows Your Name

When The Hope Conspiracy went on hiatus back in 2004, vocalist Kevin Baker formed a new band. That band was Bars, a cocky concoction of rock and hardcore. It was a clear departure from Hope Con’s anguished hardcore roots. The process has reversed as Bars went missing in action and Hope Con is prepared for a comeback. This too separates itself from earlier Hope Con material, proving to be their finest work ever.

Death Knows Your Name is the return album and debut at new residence Deathwish Records. Hope Con released the teaser 7-inch Hang Your Cross on the label earlier this year. There’s no requirement to own both, the album already contains 2/3 of the vinyl cuts. Moving on to what some people have waited four years to hear.

“They Know Not” begins the album. As restrained chords are being sliced away at half-volume, it doesn’t take long to realize how intense this ride will be. Baker, and the rest of the band, will soon descend and hellraise for the remainder. It’s like Hope Con enrolled in hardcore grad school and learned how to rule even harder. Their mosh-worthy onslaughts are the lightning of the storm. The terms heavy, dissonant, and really fucking intense are all accurate descriptions. Said moments can be heard through the epic “Hang Your Cross” and violent “So Many Pigs So Few Bullets.” Everything on here gets me pumped to see these songs played live. At this point there isn’t any news of touring, so who knows when that opportunity will actually come.

Touring guitarist Jim Carroll only made minor contributions here, but you’d be deaf not to notice them. He’s responsible for a dirty wah-pedal solo in “Animal Farm,” and you’ll probably be thinking, “damn, they should do that more.” Fortunately, two more tracks also bear his presence, “Suicide Design” and “Stolen Days.”

I can’t stress enough how well producer Kurt Ballou brought the band back to life. If you’ve heard that name before it’s because he plays guitar in Converge and has produced many other awesome works. Lyrically, Baker hasn’t turned into a softie yet. “A Darkness in the Light” has Baker proclaiming “death knows your name” with his every word setting off an explosion. Again, more unadulterated bitterness as you’d rightfully expect from him. “The best of friends are gone and dead / Brothers, sisters, never forget / We live in an empty shell / A dead town nothing going straight to hell.”

Whether or not everyone will agree that this is Hope Con’s greatest output is debatable. Their past two efforts were nothing short of quality. On a more realistic note, I would find it hard to believe that people could listen to this and be let down. Death Knows Your Name is worthy of the band’s legacy, and a challenge to other hardcore bands to keep up.