Reading, Pennsylvania’s post-hardcore outfit, I Hate Heroes, drops their debut album September 4. It’s entitled Save Yourself.
Formed in 2014, the band is composed of Ephraim Francis (vocals), Ricky Nachurski (guitar), Matt Cellini (bass), and Nicholas Nachurski (drums). Merging ingredients from pop and metal, I Hate Heroes’ sound encompasses contagious melodicism with the prickly potency of metal.
The band rocketed to attention with their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” followed by a slot on Van’s Warped Tour. Their 2015 EP, If Life Were a Book, I’d Skip This Chapter, solidified the band’s status as rising stars. I Hate Heroes just finished touring the East Coast with Ovtlier.
The thrust of the Save Yourself is this: when life gets hard, look inside; that’s where you’ll find the strength to save yourself.
As Ephraim Francis explains, “For me, Save Yourself is by far the most important piece of writing I’ve produced. I landed on the title after completing every track and realizing that this album has been something akin to therapy for me, and I can only hope it has a similar effect on those who may have fought the same battles. Some of us are lucky enough to be surrounded by love, support, forgiveness, and understanding. Unfortunately, however, there are many who can’t say the same. I aim to use music to shed a little light on that darkness, and if it’s enough to guide even a few back from the edge, I can rest a bit easier.”
Save Yourself embraces 11 tracks. The opening track is “Here’s To You,” a stuttering powerhouse of pop-flavored metal, with growling vocals juxtaposed against Francis’ pearly melodic tones. With breaks oozing swirling colors and creamy textures, the tune combines muscle and delicacy. Francis’ high, tight voice, simmering with piercing energy, is a delight.
My favorite tracks on the album include “Here’s To You,” as well as “Stand Tall,” a buff tune attended by gossamer elegant filaments, like a hybrid of Slipknot and Fall Out Boy. This track thrums with hefty dynamics and rumbling pressure, as well as graceful melodicism.
Other notable tracks include “Silver Linings,” a tune full of brawny metal elements merging with compact alt rock/alt pop flavors. Nachurski’s drumming impressed the hell out of me: powerful, with machine-gun rapidity on the double-bass, as well as the hard-to-find capacity not to go overboard, à la early Ginger Baker. His talent on the skins really shines on “Alive” and “Ghost in the Mirror,” another excellent track.
In fact, when you come right down to it, there isn’t a sorry track on the album. The amalgamation of beefy metal with dollops of pop and just a dash of punk requires walking a fine musical line because too much pop tilts the sound toward bubble-gum, while too much metal leads to overcompensation. Fortunately, I Hate Heroes does a great balancing act, walking the tightrope with deft ability.
Save Yourself is one of the better albums I’ve reviewed so far this year. It’s tight and muscular, yet maintains a mainstream appeal. Definitely give this one a listen.