Hawthorne Heights could very well be named champions of emo. Let’s face it; they’ve got to be up there with the best when you try to think of emo bands. With this their eighth album, The Rain Just Follows Me, they attempt to affirm their place in the music scene as more than just a part of emo history.
The 11-track record, produced by Grammy-winner Cameron Webb (Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Megadeth), brings Hawthorne Heights into the present day, revealing new angst and emotions. The band comprises JT Woodruff on vocals and guitar, Mark McMillon on guitar and backing vocals, Matt Ridenour on bass and backing vocals, and Chris Popadak on drums.
The album opens with the lead single ‘Constant Dread’ where Woodruff tries to tap into the feeling of searching for something positive to cling to. The song features labelmate Brendan Murphy of Counterparts, and they complement each other wonderfully. However, something dark looms in this track, and there is a weight to it that is reminiscent of their earlier work. At first listen, it may seem like a sign they are going back to their roots on this record. However, if that is what you were hoping for, you may be disappointed as later songs go off in their new direction.
The next track, ‘The Rain Just Follows Me’ is listenable and enjoyable but does not jump out at you as an exceptional track on the album. ‘Holy Coast,’ which plays next, is one of the not-so-hidden gems on the album and gives us a burst of high energy that listeners are bound to lap up. At this point, we are given something to get our teeth into, and the album picks up.
Another track to watch out for is a couple more down the line ‘Thunder In Our Hearts’ gives us exactly that. The opening is nice and heavy, and the song develops into something almost upbeat. Other songs to watch out for are ‘Palm Canyon Drive’ and the brilliant closer’ Bambarra Beach (The End),’ another song with a heavy opening that has intensity brimming over the edges.
Throughout the album, there’s no doubt that the band’s skill at mixing screams with clean vocals, the heavy and the soft together gives off unique energy. One that not many others can replicate with such success, and then, of course, there are the wonderful breakdowns.
If a good feature or collaboration is your thing, then be sure to have a listen to ‘Spray Paint It Black,’ which comes with an excellent performance from Anthony Raneri of Bayside. Then there’s ‘Seafoam,’ a comfortable tune that will lull you into security with the oh-so-familiar voice of William Ryan Key, formerly of Yellowcard.
The Rain Just Follows Me is an album listeners can easily get into, although we suspect it may be more so for new listeners than fans who will want to compare it to old Hawthorne Heights. Where it shines makes up entirely for wherein some songs it lacks slightly but is still a formidable record. The album was released digitally on September 10, 2021, via Pure Noise Records, and we suggest you download or stream it at the usual places at your earliest opportunity.