Review : Hit The Lights - Invicta
AbsolutepunkIt’s about time we heard some new Hit the Lights material. It seems like it’s been ages since the summery Skip School Start Fights first dominated beaches in July 2008. Sure enough, their latest EP, Invicta, will definitely make the wait for their upcoming full-length easier.
On first listen, Invicta definitely carries a more diverse vibe to it than Skip School. The summery pop hooks are now replaced with a more Anberlin-style, arena-sounding delivery. Have no fear though; this style suits Nick Thompson’s pipes in ideal fashion, as the band has clearly grown – both vocally and musically – within the past three years.
“Gravity” begins with echoing guitar tones and meek singing before escalating into a straightforward rock song, driven by Thompson’s towering vocal performance and the rhythmic drumming of Nate Van Dame. Clearly, the sound varies greatly from all previous Hit the Lights material this time around; however, the change seems to suit their new direction perfectly, while still maintaining the signature addictive nature of any Hit the Lights cut. The growth of the band also shines throughout these three songs, with “Earthquake” exhibiting the excelled musicianship through pacing drums, steadying guitar play, and soaring vocals. “All The Weight” may be the most unexpected song of the three. Built around thick guitar licks and a softer vocal style, “All The Weight” will definitely result in mixed feelings from fans – some will love the new sound, others may be put off by it at first – but it definitely grows on you....full text
PopmattersI have a friend who coined a term for a genre of music: “ponk”. He came up with the term some time ago to embrace a whole slew of punk bands that play essentially pop music, such as Blink 182 and Sum 41. If you combine the words “pop” and “punk”, you get “ponk”. Get it? Well, the Ohio-based Hit the Lights is essentially a ponk band, as evidenced by their latest release Invicta (not to be confused with an EP released late last year with the same name and three of the 11 songs that make up this release). However, Hit the Lights do add an interesting wrinkle to the ponk sound: they manage to convey all of the adolescent angst and black-eyeliner emoness of pop-punk with the bombast and sturdiness of ‘80s arena rock. When you first hear the cavernous drums of opening song “Invincible”, you have to wonder if Robert John “Mutt” Lange (of AC/DC and Def Leppard fame) had a hand in producing the track. And those keyboards on “Gravity”, I swear, seem lifted right out of a Mr. Mister song.
The thing with Invicta is that its first half is swelling and almost orchestral in its rendering of the ponk aesthetic. However, something happens by the time you get around to “Float Through Me”, the album’s sixth track. The music becomes smaller somehow, as though it were being played through the world’s tiniest music box. All of the hardness and heavy-hitting candour of the album’s first five songs seem to get to get sucked out of a vapour lock and into a massive black hole. It’s as though the band simply couldn’t sustain the unbridled energy they had unleashed throughout the record’s first act. That makes Invicta unfortunately limp and a missed opportunity—a record that starts out pretty good for what it is and then somehow runs right out of steam. Invicta might have been better, as a result, as an EP—not the one released in 2011, but one that cherry-picked the first five songs or so and left it at that. As a full-bodied document, Invicta the LP will leave you disappointed, and the real “ponk” sound will be the echo of your hand slapping your forehead, wondering how on earth a band could become so deflated when they burst onto the album sounding so confident and bigger than life. The end result is that Invicta is pretty much for die-hard Hit the Lights or ponk fans only....full text
Blogcritics"Earthquake," the first video from the pop-punk rockers Hit The Lights' upcoming album Invicta, has hit the net. Shot at a variety of stops on the band's recent fall tour, the tune tones down the grit and fires up the pop. It is about as accessible as you can get while keeping your punk credentials, and it is a fairly accurate representation of the kind of music you'll find on the new album. There are songs that lean further to punk, and songs that lean more to pop, but nothing that really goes all the way in either direction.
Omar Zehery, Hit the Lights' guitarist, explains, "The songs definitely have pop elements to them but we made a conscious effort to make sure they weren't too polished either." Front man Nick Thompson adds, "We weren't trying to shy away from pop-punk, we just tried to be ourselves and write honest music." What they produced is a menu of new material that is sure to please old fans and likely to produce new ones. If it doesn't quite reach the grandiose goal Thompson says the band was aiming for—"the goal for this record was to be epic"—it does manage its lesser aims. "We just wanted everything to sound powerful and for it to be the type of album you can listen to over and over and hear different things."
Album opener "Invincible" uses the band getting psyched to take the stage as a metaphor for attempting to achieve great things. It is the kind of anthem sure to get audiences on their feet at the beginning of any concert. "Tonight we jump from greater heights; we're invincible, and it starts/Take the stage, feel the blood rush through your veins, take a chance." "Oh My God," which closes the album, is about as close to classic punk as the band delivers. "Oh my god," the song ends, "I've found Hell in you." Other punk-leaning tracks include "Gravity," "Take Control," and "Float Through Me," which opens with some interesting guitar work and percussion....full text
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