Phew. For a second there I honestly thought House vs Hurricane were dead and gone. After releasing their mammoth synth-laden EP Forfeiture in 2008 House vs Hurricane were destined for notirety and fame. Then shortly after tragedy struck; band members left, new members came and the future of the band was up in the air all before even releasing a full-length album.
Crooked Teeth is only House vs Hurricane’s second full-length but you might as well as call it their first because they’re a whole new band (not just the line-up changes) the band you knew no longer sound like an Australian version of The Devil Wears Prada you’ll be hard pressed to find a synth or out of place scream on this album. Instead House vs Hurricane now sound like a mixture of The Amity Affliction (another prominent Australian band), Four Letter Lie and Every Time I Die.
When I first heard the clean vocals on this album the Amity Affliction influence immediately stuck out to me perhaps because of the Australian accent (this is definitely not a bad thing though), the clean vocals are great and refreshing in comparison to the typical style of whiny cleans you’d hear from other post-hardcore bands.
Another thing that I immediately noticed was the drum work of drummer or should I say drum machine Sam Osborne is impressive on Crooked Teeth. In almost every single track the drum work really stands out, forgoing mediocre 4/4 timing in quite a lot of the songs Osborne sounds like he’s throwing his hands and arms all around the kit all while keeping in time with the rest of the band. The first single released off of the album, “Blood Knuckles” is a good example of House vs Hurricane’s new-found energy and technical drum sound but you really only have to listen to any track on the album to hear just how good the instrumentation aspect of this album is.
Production? Crooked Teeth sounds like it’s had a million dollars in production spent on it when in reality the guys didn’t spend anywhere near that, proving you don’t need a big budget to get a big sound. The vocals sound brutal and to the point, the guitars have a nice thick crunchy tone, the drums sound great (I really love that snare) & everything is perfectly mixed. Half of the albums being released by more-known post-hardcore & metal bands don’t even sound don’t even come anywhere close the the production showcased on this album, you only have to listen to the new For The Fallen Dreams album to hear what expensively bad production sounds like.
The guitar work of Christopher Shaw & Ryan McLerie is also worth noting, they’ve really upped their game as well. Instead of sticking to simple, boring guitar chugs and juns they’ve added a layer of complexity to their guitar playing that give the songs a sense of depth and drive the point home that House vs Hurricane wanted this album to make an impact when people heard it. The track “Head Cold” has some pretty fantastic lead parts throughout the verses, “Lost World” is another anthemic number with some nice underlying slow lead guitar fret-surfing. Listen to the album through a decent pair of headphones and you’ll notice the entire album is laced with tasty lead parts scattered throughout.
This is the first album showcasing new vocalist Dan Casey after ex-vocalist Chris Dicker left the band in 2011. The departure of Chris in my opinion was one of the best things to happen to House vs Hurricane, Dan Casey has a far superior and more unique voice than Dicker’s limited range. Also absent is ex-keyboardist Joey Fagione who was kicked out of the band another smart move that by the sounds of it has made this latest effort from the HVH guys more than just another mediocre synth-riddled post-hardcore record.
The only track on this album that I didn’t fully enjoy was slow ballad, “Moonshine” the lyrics do read like a sappy love letter and the instrumentation is arranged in a sincere matter but it just doesn’t do it for me. Some of the clean parts in this track actually remind me of a now defunct Australian band called Sunk Loto, it’s not a horrible track the clean vocals are really nice and the inclusion of the melodic guitar solo at the end is a nice touch as well, it probably would have worked better if it were just an instrumental track.
In this style of music you really don’t get any better than this. Crooked Teeth encompasses everything the Australian metal/hardcore genres stand for, amplifies it and delivers it all in a neatly produced and packaged album that is sure to gain them international notoriety. I guess there is a reason the guys are playing Big Day Out 2013 (Australia’s largest music festival), a pinnacle of Australian success as a band right there.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10.