Review: Hurt – ‘Goodbye To The Machine’

Posted: April 13th, 2009
Contributed By: Nick

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Release Date: April 7th, 2009 via Amusement
Hurt is:
J. Loren (Vocals / Guitar)
Paul Spatola (Guitar)
Rek Mohr (Bass)
Louie Sciancalepore (Drums)

Overview: When a Virginia-based band calling themselves Hurt initially broke through in 2006, their steady rise was anything but injurious. The band was Capitol Records’ new rock baby and the label was dead set on fostering Hurt’s mainstream launch. Capitol released Hurt’s debut ‘Vol. 1‘ in March 2006, but its initial arrival was very hush-hush. Then rock radio got a hold of Hurt’s two singles, “Rapture” and “Falls Apart” respectively, spinning them both into the top 20. Successful tours including headlining stints and high-profile support slots alongside Staind and Alice in Chains consummated the ‘Vol. 1‘ cycle, and Hurt spent much of 2007 prepping for installment number two. The not-so-surprisingly titled ‘Vol. 2‘ dropped in September 2007 to far greater pomp and circumstance, as its lead single “Ten Ton Brick” smashed into active rock’s top 10. However this time around, the gun-ho for Hurt Capitol Records was replaced by the downsizing and financially strapped Capitol Records, who axed Hurt from its roster in May 2008. The quartet soldiered on; completing all planned tours and beginning work on a new record. On April 7, Hurt return with their third major album, ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘. Call your local rock station to request Hurt’s new single “Wars”.

The Good: I’ll make this crystal clear: ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘ ain’t no ‘Vol. 3‘ nor does it try to follow the progression of its two predecessors. Instead, Hurt takes a fresh start and runs with it, not trying to ape on what ground they’ve already treaded. The new Hurt enterprise greets you with the brawny “Got Jealous”, sounding like Eddie Vedder meets Page Hamilton sprinkled with traces of Weezer and Queens of the Stone Age. Although a simpleton at heart, “Got Jealous” flirts with a potpourri of rock styles from shoe-gaze to lo-fi fuzz. “Pandora” is a slithering path through pummeling choruses, risqué lyrics, a ballroom-ready waltz and playful violin work courtesy of Hurt’s brainchild J. Loren Wince. Leadoff single “Wars” swings a stick comprised of brooding verses and cavernous choruses, brushed with heavy strokes of ‘Opiate’-era Tool. “World Ain’t Right” is an acoustic ballad spearheaded by a cameo from Seether heart-throb Shaun Morgan, as he and Loren wax poetic with spine-tingling concupiscence. J. Loren emotes with jilted longing on “Sweet Delilah”, an ethnic and sultry foray that resounds with a Bruce Springsteen-ish charm. “1331″ is eclectic, quirky, and drives rather sharply; however the melodies of “1331″ are ultra-soothing, masking its wiry tendencies. “Role Martyr X” embraces modern-day post-grunge posturing without forfeiting any of Hurt’s prog-bravado. “Well” is earmarked by eerie and volatile build-ups leading into its mountainous choruses. The latter part of the choruses is nifty, stripped of the visceral riffery in favor of brief, yet memorable dips into a bluesy, smooth jazz-like realm. The bridge of “Well” is centered on a guitar solo whose tone was popularized in the early 90′s, a nice serving of nostalgia. From out of nowhere comes “Pills”, a bubbly mid-tempo happy time with heavy genre-crossover aspirations. Following suit is “Dreams Away” which thrives on unbridled power-pop energy and whimsical, storybook lyrics. ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘ hits the dusty trail with “That (Such a Thing)”, another 10 minute album closer familiarized by Hurt on both ‘Vol. 1‘ and ‘Vol. 2‘. Like each successive movie in the Saw film series, “That (Such a Thing)” helps to color-in and fill the gaps of the “story” Hurt has already told in their previous two 600 second tales.

The pick of the litter is the powerhouse “Fighting Tao”. Hurt locks into a booming groove of spirited vocals and tribal lurches, imbued by a lovely saxophone. The band then explodes into a destructive diatribe commanded by a string piece straight out of Titanic’s third-deck Irish dance-offs. “Fighting Tao” is dynamically flawless and deserves your attention.

The Bad: Perhaps Hurt should have planned their getaway from this so-called “machine” more prudently. Because underneath the scrap metal and rusted gears, the band left behind a bulk of fully-working, tried and true parts that would have been an asset to ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘. “Wars” works as a single but it just sort of plods along to nowheresville. For as soulful as Shaun Morgan and J. Loren want to be on “World Ain’t Right”, the song sounds noticeably well-manicured and tailor-made. Despite its nuances, “1331″ is a skip; while the ass-end of the tune is great, it isn’t worth the 2:45 you have to spend to get there. The main riff of “Role Martyr X” is almost an identical inverse of the lick used on Saving Abel’s “Beautiful You”. “Well” also joins the copycat brigade, sounding too close to “Burn” by a band called Pete. If it weren’t for a handful of cool transitions by drummer Louie Sciancalepore, I could care less for the plebian “Pills”. “That (Such a Thing)” is predestined to be a scholarly jaunt, but the chants of “we’re all gonna die” from a guest chamber choir turn this would-be shining star into a longwinded shit-eating grin. Hurt’s biggest hurdle on ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘ is their grappling with somewhat of an identity crisis. The band tries hard to echo the cathartic and inquisitive aura of ‘Vol. 1‘ and ‘Vol. 2‘ on the more free-for-all ‘Goodbye to Machine’ with little success. Instead, Hurt repeatedly find themselves unable to interlace some of their most defining characteristics within the schizophrenic walls of ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘.

Bottomline: Hurt’s ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘ will undoubtedly appease the band’s hardcore fans. But I’m not so sure the majority of Hurt’s followers are ready to make like bananas and split from the old Hurt machine. And after hearing ‘Goodbye to the Machine‘, I’m not so sure Hurt was ready either.

TuneLab Rating: 6 out of 10