Trust is key to any successful creative collaboration. It allows an artist to take risk and creates an open dialogue where each member is free to set aside personal ego to work towards a greater common goal. For melodic hardcore legends, Hopefall, that trust has become second nature over their twenty plus years of friendship and, as a result, their new full-length, Arbiter, continues the band’s legacy as pioneers.
Hopesfall formed in 1998. Over the next decade, the band would undergo numerous line-up changes but always drew from the same core group of lifelong friends to source new members. The bond between the group was so strong that even after disbanding in 2008, guitarists Joshua Brigham and Dustin Nadler and drummer Adam Morgan continued to get together on Wednesday nights to work on new music despite having no plans to release it. It was during these jam sessions that the music that would eventually find its way onto Arbiter first began to take shape.
In 2012, Brigham and Morgan visited frontman, Jay Forrest, in Chicago culminating in the decision that Forrest would add vocals to the demos. The lineup for the band’s reformation would then be cemented in August of 2015 when bassist, Chad Waldrup, joined the group to see Hum and Failure. Still, the idea of putting out new music as Hopesfall wasn’t part of the plan. With the lineup complete, the band brought their demos to another trusted collaborator – producer Mike Watts (Glassjaw, Dillinger Escape Plan, O’Brother) whom they had worked with on two previous releases, Magnetic North and A Types. It was Watts who brought the demos to Dan Sandshaw and Will Putney of Graphic Nature / Equal Vision Records where the idea of releasing it as a Hopesfall record was finally discussed. A testament to the band’s hard-earned legacy, the famed label immediately jumped on the opportunity to release the project.
Arbiter has a decidedly unique bend to it, but Brigham points out that it is built off of the same principles as Hopesfall’s previous catalog – “big riffs and dark melodies”. Forrest adds that the driving message of Arbiter remains the same as well: “Hopes fall. Tragedies happen. But that doesn’t mean you should give up or not stay the course”. Arbiter is a diverse collection of songs that encourages curiosity and exploration. Album opener, “Faint Object Camera”, holds truest to the band’s roots. It is an aggressive, riff-heavy track that was built loud enough to fill any room. “Tunguska” represents the other end of the spectrum with it’s ethereal, laid-back tones and driving melodies, and “H.A. Wallace Space Academy” bridges the gap between the two with it’s incredible dynamism and exuberant energy. Topically, Arbiter is political without taking to the bully pulpit. Again, “H.A. Wallace Space Academy”, “Tunguska” and “Faint Object Camera” serve as a perfect representation of the album’s diversity as they tackle the political manipulation to one of FDR’s Vice Presidents, a massive asteroid strike and a now defunct telephoto lense that at one point was part of the Hubble Telescope, respectively.
Arbiter is set for release on July 13th via Graphic Nature / Equal Vision Records. It is at once a reminder of why the band has become so influential and a beacon of the band’s continued evolution. Look for Hopesfall to support the release with select tour dates later this year.