End of Hope- Pushback Is Strong (Album Review)

March 13, 2023


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New York City’s End of Hope found the sweet spot between punk, rock, and metal on their debut full length Cease & Destroy back in 2019.  Coming in somewhere between Motörhead, Black Flag, New York hardcore, and a healthy dose of doom, they put these wide range of influences together in ways that had a sense of familiarity and nostalgia yet still managed to feel fresh.  Unfortunately like a lot of groups, the November release date made their material land only a few months before the music industry ground to a halt due to COVID and their activities were put on hold.  But as things started to pick back up End of Hope clearly looked to re-emerge stronger than ever, and they’ve done just that with sophomore effort Pushback Is Strong.  Their core sound has remained focused on blurring the lines between these three related styles of music, yet they’ve pushed each element further than before and come back with songs that stick with you over repeat listens.

What immediately stands out about Pushback Is Strong is how well the members of End of Hope blur the line between genres in seamless fashion, and they often do so within the confines of a single song.  Opener “Behavioral Modification” is a perfect example, as the riffs start off sounding somewhere between sludge and doom with some of the off-balance feel of Melvins, kick things up into some faster rock ‘n roll around the halfway mark, and whip things up full-on hardcore a minute or so later before transitioning right back into lumbering doom.  It often feels like the band has tried to do a little bit more of everything while also upping the intensity, giving you more bursts of full-on hardcore and punk, lumbering doom, and faster rock with production values that really add some weight to each instrument without sacrificing detail.  Compared to its predecessor Pushback is Strong has a bit more to latch onto from one song to the next, as each one has more of its own identity and the amount of variety keeps things interesting.  The title track reminds me of Motörhead crossed with the faster punk elements of a Type O Negative record, while “Seed Indecision” comes through with Melvins and Black Sabbath influences but there’s also some earlier proto metal in there at times.  Despite how many different directions End of Hope goes in, nothing feels out of place and the twenty-nine-minute run ensures that the ideas keep flowing without becoming repetitive.  My only criticism comes in the flow of the last few tracks, where the band sticks with a slower or mid-tempo approach that does blur together just a bit.  I wouldn’t have minded just a few more bursts of speed to break things up towards the end, but have still found Pushback is Strong a fun, high energy listen from beginning to end.

Vocalist Davey Gunnar’s roots are in New York hardcore, and this was reflected in his performance on End of Hope’s previous material as his approach was somewhere between yelling and gruffer singing.  In the time that’s passed since then he’s gotten a bit quirkier, coming through very similarly to Melvins’ King Buzzo on songs like “Behavioral Modification” and “Seed Indecision”.  The delivery has that same lumbering, unpredictable feel to it as Gunnar’s voice booms out of your speakers with quite a bit of intensity, and whether intentional or not it gives a noticeably different vibe compared to Cease & Destroy.  As the rest of the band shifts in tone the vocals often do as well, with Gunnar returning to a more aggressive hardcore pitch during the punchier moments and offering up some slightly cleaner singing during the rocking ones.  There’s also a bit of quirkiness when it comes to the lyrics as well, and who can’t help but smile at a song title like “Nobody Cares About Your Band”?

There’s certainly no sophomore slump here, as Davis Schlachter, David Richman, and Ken Wohlrob remain a well-oiled machine and have expanded upon every side of End of Hope’s core sound while offering up even more riffs that stand out from song to song.  Davey Gunnar’s taken on some very Melvins sounding singing/yelling as well, and these changes make Pushback is Strong a more diverse and downright fun showing from this band.  It’s easy for groups to throw in some stylistic elements from other genres, but it really feels like these guys live and breathe everything from hardcore punk to doom and it shows.  And after all, who else can sound like Minor Threat or Cro-Mags one minute and Melvins the next?

-Review by Chris Dahlberg