Fifth Hour Hero - Not Revenge... Just a Vicious Crush
Initially I thought this album would be just another samey so-called punk release by another non-entity Canadian four piece. But it seems I was wrong, right from the first track I was impressed.
The band seem to have done their fair share of living on a tour bus and honing their sound and lineup over the years and this album marks their second full length release. The press pack droned on about tragedy, pain, beauty and delicacy and so on which got rather infuriating so I won't bore you with the details here, and apparently Fifth Hour Hero are definitely not poppy. But I ask you is poppy such a bad thing?
The songs on 'Not Revenge...' are all catchy and infectious, a pure slice of melancholic pop-punk with a smidgen of a hardcore edge to keep the integrity. Think Rise Against meets Strike Anywhere. The band's vocal line up is interesting and keeps things varied: the duties are shared by a silky smooth and surprisingly rich in tone female vocalist Genevieve Maguire; and the more raspy, slightly less tuneful but no less characterful Matheiu Guilbault and Olivier Maguire. The combination works extremely well and the male/female harmonies complement each other well. The only downside are the few tracks where Genevieve isn't the main singer. She undoubtedly has the best voice in the band and her performances are uplifting, the others are ok in a melodic hardcore kind of way but the music doesn't really have enough of an edge or in-your-face hardness to allow for the 'almost' in tune notes, but then Genevieve generally comes back in on the choruses and everything is forgiven.
I was particularly impressed by the intricate structures and varied guitar riffs which litter the album. Everything is kept moving along nicely and you get swept away on waves of anthemic hooks hitting you one after another. It takes quite a few listens to appreciate the album fully and scratch away at the surface to really appreciate everything that's going on. It took me quite a while to notice all the brass and saxophone throughout (played in fact by Mr Nuhfer from Less Than Jake). The album does seem to tail off a bit towards the end and the production quality seems to vary quite a bit but it's still a solid piece of work.
Although the male vocals may be a bit grating at times, it's the variety and diversity which really makes the band stand out from the crowd as something to look out for next year on the touring circuit. It's unconventional pop-punk but in a very good way.