Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Broken Hope - Loathing (1997)

Broken Hope was a band that seemed to remain in the shadow of others, such as Cannibal Corpse and Immolation, throughout their early career. Their first couple albums, Swamped in Gore and The Bowels of Repugnance, feature some rather decent old school Death Metal. They followed this with the dumbed-down and incredibly boring Repulsive Conception and, apparently, realized that something was wrong with their formula. Released through Metal Blade in January 1997, Loathing was somewhat of a departure from the works that preceded it. 

What we have here is a rather polished product, by comparison to that which came before. Perhaps, in an attempt to escape the immense mediocrity of Repulsive Conception, Broken Hope made some significant changes. Make no mistake, many of the trademark elements of the band's sound are still present, but the overall approach is different. The production is very modern and clean and there is an added sense of melodicism that permeates nearly every track, as well as much more technical musicianship. Alone, these things would not necessarily indicate much of a problem, but several of the melodies come off as pretentious and only serve to lighten the atmosphere. However, the worst offense has to be the extremely catchy choruses that are found in nearly every song. The vocals are still as deep as ever, like echoes of some monstrous voice emanating from a filthy sewer, but the patterns are very predictable and one gets the feeling that they were planned out with clean singing. They follow the melodies very closely and seem quite unlike anything that the band had done before. While several of the songs are easily memorable and less likely to blend together as on their previous outing, it all wears thin pretty quickly. 

Broken Hope were never among the top-tier of Death Metal bands, but their earlier works possessed a darker atmosphere that is severely lacking here. Loathing cannot be called an attempt to "sell-out", by any means, though the more melodic approach and the catchy choruses likely make this the most accessible album from this band. After such a lackluster and tedious third album, Broken Hope probably just decided that some sort of change was needed and, unfortunately, this is what they came up with. There is no feeling present, just the stench of modernity.