I always preferred Stephen Keech era Haste the Day to Jimmy Ryan’s era. There, I said it! That actually had more to do with the music than Ryan’s vocals. I love Ryan on the Trenches record. But those last two Haste the Day records (Dreamers, Attack of the Wolf King) are perfect! Still, when the band announced their reunion, which would feature members from every era, including both Keech and Ryan as vocalists, I geeked out a little. Some records you worry about the hype being to big. Could a reunion of this size work? For whatever reason I had no fear. I assumed Coward would be awesome!
Begin doesn’t quite pick up where Attack of the Wolf King left. The riff feels more technical and mature. At times I hear what it was that I loved about Haste the Day on this track, but I mostly hear something refreshing and renewed. It’s definitely a new era of Haste the Day and the longer the track plays, the more I’m in love with it! Take is the first time we hear the “new” band with Ryan back at the helm and he sounds great! Take will get the circle pit going. With Ryan on vocals, Take has a Converge vibe to it. Of course the cleans come in on the hook and that Converge vibe disappears. It’s a great reminder that Haste the Day is blazing their own path.
The band brings things down with a great clean riff on World. World feels like the band picking up where Attack of the Wolf King ended. It’s the song that I wished My Name Is Darkness was. The title track is a riff that feels ripped straight out of the Attack of the Wolf King sessions. It’s the type of song that made me fall in love with Haste the Day. Lost feels like the next step for Haste the Day. You can hear things that the band did previously, but the song sounds like nothing they’re ever done before. Reconcile is simple and slowly builds, taking its time before Keech’s vocals explode out of the stereo speakers!
Shadow is vicious. The song rips your face off, gives you time to put it back on and then comes back for seconds! It plays with that slide country guitar sound that Coalesce used on Ox, but Haste the Day uses it to create a horrifying layer in the mix. Fail is the fastest song I’ve heard Haste the Day write and perform. The interplay between Ryan and Keech’s vocals is present throughout the record but the way the two screams, plus the various cleans work on this song add so many textures and dynamics, that you start to lose track. In a good way. It makes you want to listen again and again again and pick the song apart.
The opening riff on Accepted is Dreamers era, but with Ryan’s vocals on the verse you get a glimpse of what Pressure the Hinges might have sounded like if Ryan hadn’t left the band. It’s a great picture of the way the band has evolved, as well as a glimpse into the band as it never was. Plus the breakdown on the track is just nasty! Secret is unconventionally heavy. It has that pseudo Deftness “ambient” guitar that bad like The Overseer and Underoath (on their last record) have used in the past, but there’s something weightier about it on Secret. The song is sludgey, but still very much Haste the Day. Gnaw is another song that showcases Haste the Day’s newer “hardcore” circle pit style that peaks out every now and again on Coward before getting “sludge” and “ambient”. It starts as an unconventional closing track put leaves you feeling satisfied.
If you were a kickstarter backer on this project, you got your money’s worth! If you’re a Haste the Day fan, you’re getting your money worth. If you prefer Ryan over Keech, or Keech over Ryan, it won’t matter. You’ll love this record! This is easily some of the band’s best and freshest work yet! I hope they have more music in them! 5 out of 5 Stars!