Review: Eleventh Hour Onset – Nostalgia

Metalcore is a somewhat basic genre that has soared in popularity in the last ten years. Few bands bring anything new to the table and those that do rise above the rest. Wisconsin’s Eleventh Hour Onset is one such band.

Opening with a melancholy guitar and rhythm section, ‘Faith Like Family’ instantly sets ‘Nostalgia’ apart from metalcore as a whole with a dreary, yet alluring atmosphere. Vocalist, Brad Wilson, breaks the tension with his own brand of aggressive harsh vocals, while guitarist/vocalist, Mikeal Dollak Posch, complements the dreary atmosphere with downtrodden clean vocals. Musically, ‘Faith Like Family’ has a strong beat, driving guitars, and an excellent guitar hook, making for a well rounded album opener.

A little more upbeat, ‘Through the Years’ begins to show where the band truly shines. Drummer, Tony Cuccia, shows a great deal of skill with highly technical drumming, while the guitars and bass provide a simple yet flowing rhythm and melody. Dollak Posch’s clean vocals are featured prominently, but Wilson can be heard in the background giving this tune just enough aggression. The use of synths midway through the track was an interesting and welcome addition, for it did well to make way for an electrifying guitar solo.

‘Nostalgia’ is something of an interlude for the rest of the album. Showcasing the superb guitar work of Dollak Posch and his compatriot, Adam Gilboy, this instrumental track is slow and melodic. The lead guitar is at the forefront, while the slow, almost depressing beat of the drums and rhythm section make for a tune that fits the title perfectly. Simply put, ‘Nostalgia’ is the music in your head when you’re looking back at times long past and desperately missed.

While musically excellent, ‘Hanging Heads’ suffers greatly from poor studio production. At times, the vocals faded out and sound like the singer is miles from the microphone making for it hard to follow. Another notable issue is when Wilson’s muted vocals suddenly explode in volume as if someone cranked the volume to the maximum. While an eye opener, this throws the song off kilter making for the weakest entry on the album, but by no fault of the band itself.

Much more melodic than anything before it, ‘Portraits’ is a welcome change after the unfortunately mangled ‘Hanging Heads.’ Dollak Posch once again takes the lead on vocals for the first two minutes of the track, singing to the guitars, that, while beautiful, are overly simplistic. However, once the distortion and drums kick in, so does the cringe-worthy production. The drums are very metallic sounding, almost like a vintage alarm clock, while the guitar and bass, especially an otherwise great solo, is severely muted during the heavier sections. Fortunately, only about 40 seconds of the song is ruined by questionable mixing, thus the song is serviceable.

As if showing the band’s anger over the shortcomings of the previous two tracks, ‘A Long Road Home’ is pure metalcore bliss. With blistering drums, thunderous guitars, and snarling vocals, this is what you would expect from a metalcore band. That being said, the track is straight to the point and lacks any distinguishing features other than aggression. Given that it’s the only of its kind on the entire album, the simplistic and brutal nature of this particular track is more than welcome.

The album ender ‘December Skies’ is very much like the title track in that it’s a purely melodic guitar tune that showcases the guitarists’ skills. It’s the perfect ending to a strong, yet flawed, original debut. Hopefully the next album isn’t too far away and the studio gets its act together. 8/10  

Editor’s Note – 0.5 was originally deducted due to the aforementioned sound issues, but returned after the band made it clear it was out of their control.

Because seeing is believing, here’s the official video for ‘A Long Road Home.’

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