Hail the Sun is easily my favorite band from the simply swancore scene. Since their first full-length Wake in 2014, they’ve been blowing me away more and more with each release. They are an incredibly talented group and at this point, I have high expectations going into each release. New Age Filth is everything I expected and wanted from more Hail the Sun, and if you are a fan who is wanting more of that signature sound you surely won’t be disappointed. It’s frenetic and energetic with tons of dynamic instrumental moments, elevated exponentially by the always magnificent vocals of Donovan Molero. It has soft and intimate moments that feel like the personal musings a lot of people write down but are never confident enough to share with the world. And it is also filled with the heavy, breakneck beats that call for a massive circle pit which Hail the Sun has always graced us with.
I mentioned that Hail the Sun are pretty easily my favorite swancore act, and now I have to be honest and say that it’s mostly because of Donovan Molero. He easily has some of the best vocals in the post-hardcore scene, and I count him among my favorite singers of all time personally. His range is absolutely incredible and he commonly sings at octaves most male vocalists struggle to reach. I’ve seen them live a couple times and I can confirm that it’s not simple studio magic. The dude was blessed with an absolutely wonderful voice, and it’s awesome that he shares it with the world. Aside from his singing, his lyrics are also some of the hardest hitting and honest that you’ll ever hear. They cover a lot of personal and difficult subjects, such as breakups, addiction, and struggling with mental health. New Age Filth definitely continues this trend, and Donovan is as honest and forthcoming as ever. “Domino” has some of the hardest to hear lyrics about love and self reflection I’ve ever heard, but damn it’s just such a good song. ‘
‘I met a liar who reflected in me
I don’t think they could tell
I met a girl who I didn’t deserve
So I fucked that up as well
I haven’t cut a line in 10 long years
It sure does make me think
I wrote a list of my character flaws
Pen ran out of ink‘
Honestly I want to just post the lyrics to the whole song, because there isn’t a single bad line. You should definitely pay attention to them yourself when you listen to this song, and you should definitely listen to it.
Hail the Sun have always written heavy songs, or at least moments that get pretty heavy. Donovan isn’t afraid to scream his heart out now and then, and he has the chops to throw down on the drums and pick the pace up at any moment also. Shane Gann is a hell of a guitarist to boot, and the last minute of “Slander” show them throw down as hard as they ever have. The verse is led by a damn tasty guitar riff and some insanely good screams from Donovan. It goes back into the chorus one last time beautifully before the ending sequence picks up once more. It’s a really fun song and has quickly become one of my favorites on the album just because of the energy.
I have a very hard time picking an absolute favorite track out, and honestly I love bits of every song on New Age Filth. It’s incredibly well-written front to back and is full of catchy choruses and riffs at every turn. Listening through the album once more while I write this, it gets harder to pick a favorite the more time you spend with it. This album could very well be the bands best work to date, and that’s a crazy statement I never thought I’d be able to make after Wake. While every release has been great, this one feels like a whole new beast without the band compromising any aspect of their sound.
While I might not be able to pick an absolute favorite song from New Age Filth, I can tell you that no song has really ever impacted me the way “Made Your Mark” has. The chorus cuts deep and the entire message of the track is something that strikes a really deep chord within me. No joke, I got really choked up at work today while listening to this track and my boss stopped and asked me if I was okay. While the verses of the song show that this is clearly about relationships, I feel like it’s something a lot of us can apply to a lot of different people and situations throughout life. It has had me thinking a lot about impermanence and the fleeting moments we have here on Earth and the impact that we can have on each other in ways both big and small. And it’s definitely made me reflect on a number of people who aren’t in my life anymore, and made the lyrics ring awfully true. ‘Wherever we end up, know that you made your mark‘.
Just writing out that last paragraph was enough to get me feeling some kind of way. I’m sure glad nobody is around to watch me get all teary eyed about music right now. But that right there is the magic in New Age Filth, and in the music of Hail the Sun in general. It is so incredibly personal and packed full of a million emotions. Donovan isn’t afraid to wear his heart and brain both on his sleeve, and he’s honestly put a lot of things into words that I’ve thought in my own head. Many of these thoughts are things I haven’t been able to really put into the right words, but his lyrics have made it click and make more sense. Some of it is shit I would be afraid to tell my own therapist, and he’s fearless to put it all out there the way he does. It’s incredibly brave to be so forthcoming, but I also know how much it hurts to be so cognizant of your own shortcomings and flaws, and I sympathize strongly with the band for that.
New Age Filth is nothing short of incredible. If you are familiar with Hail the Sun already, this is a definite album to check. If you aren’t sold on them yet somehow, this is the album that will punch that ticket. It is the culmination of years of work from this group of musicians, showing how far they have come and how much they have learned after over a decade of writing music together. It is incredibly ambitious for the band, with no two songs sounding the same at all, and unlike anything else they’ve ever written. They make this magic happen without sacrificing anything that has contributed to their sound, and without changing any of their core identity. There is an infectious and incredible energy that comes and goes at all the right moments. It can bring tears to your eyes with the level of emotional openness and make you itch for a live show and a mosh pit within thirty seconds of each other. The production is as good as it can get with post-hardcore music, and 34 minutes feels like the perfect length for this catharsis. I honestly can’t think of a single bad thing to say about it, and I tried really hard to come up with something. This is a must listen album as far as I’m concerned, and it will surely leave a lasting impression on me and my listening habits.