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Hurt - "Vol. II" (CD)

Hurt - "Vol. II" CD cover image

"Vol. II" track listing:

1. Summers Lost (6:11)
2. Ten Ton Brick (3:50)
3. Aftermath (3:13)
4. Abuse of Sid (4:50)
5. Alone with the Sea (5:23)
6. Talking to God (4:53)
7. Loded (3:13)
8. Better (4:27)
9. Assurance (4:35)
10. On the Radio (5:11)
11. Et Al (5:23)
12. Thank You for Listening (6:55)

Reviewed by on April 20, 2009

"Hurt manages to make a huge impact with their often acoustic, slow-tempo songs that possess a quiet fury."

About twenty years ago, there was a genre of music that rose up out of the foggy mists of Seattle that forever changed the face of hard rock music. Thanks to Nirvana, and later Pearl Jam, grunge nearly crippled the then popular glam metal scene, and changed the focus of music from sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, to angst, disenchantment, and sometimes not so pretty social commentary. Though many bands since then have tried to emulate this formula, none do it so well as the Los Angeles based band, Hurt.

Hurt’s 2007 release, "Vol. II," is really a continuation of the band’s debut, "Vol. I." However, execs decided that releasing a two-disc debut album was a bit assuming, and so the material was released separately. "Vol. II" is a collection of poetry, really, that deals with topics from abuse to addiction, but my favorite track, "Et Al," is reminiscent – in theme, at least - of Nirvana’s timeless hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Just as Nirvana loved/hated their audiences, Hurt addresses the fact that, while the band members are a bit like puppets begging for their supper, many of their listeners too are puppets, who don’t even get the meaning behind the music. Listeners are urged to "Feel, damn you, feel like you’re alive again."

In the same way that early grunge bands dismissed the showy guitar shreds and flashy falsetto wails of glam, Hurt manages to make a huge impact with their often acoustic, slow-tempo songs that possess a quiet fury. The music reminds listeners that sometimes the listening experience is about more than frantic tempos and film-score soundscapes. In fact, many of the tracks, "Alone with the Sea," in particular, have an indie spirit that takes you back to the days of college radio. The entire compilation manages to be compelling, insightful, and artistically subdued.

Probably the best word to describe the lead vocals, provided by J. Loren, is powerful. Raspy, and mid-range, they lack the flashiness of a lot of today’s power metal wails or death metal growls, but they’re just melodic enough to do their job. The drums are solid, but simple, and much of the guitar work is acoustic. Still, Hurt does include some orchestral elements, like violin and slow, classic piano, but the sound never comes across as symphonic or high-brow.

By today’s standards, Hurt’s sound would be described as heavy rock, appealing to the same audiences who favor Staind, Seether, and Theory of a Deadman. But whereas these bands offer up more radio-friendly lyrics, Hurt scratches beyond the surface to expose places that are oftentimes dark and unpleasant. And really, this was the intention with both "Vol. I" and "Vol. II," which were more about the personal pathos of vocalist J. Loren. In fact, at the time of its release, there was some doubt as to whether there would be another Hurt album after "Vol. II."

But even if you’re not usually a fan of lighter music, "Vol. II" is a great listen. Possessing the same introspective and thought-provoking quality of the writings of Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and a very few other music icons, tracks such as "Abuse of Sid," "Talking to God," and "Assurance" are must-hears. The closing track, "Thank You for Listening," is the perfect closing to this actual two-disc journey that has brought both Hurt and its listeners through a dark tunnel and out to the other side, where life is hopefully a little brighter. The southern rock, bluesy guitar, and more upbeat rhythm on this track are symbolic of the unveiling of the mournful shroud that once covered J. Loren, and offers perhaps a hint of what fans have to look forward to with future releases.

Highs: Superior song-writing, with simple compositions and thought-provoking lyrics.

Lows: At times, the lyrics may have called for a bit more anger in the instrumentals, but it’s a really minor flaw.

Bottom line: Some of the best lyrics I’ve heard in a long time, and nearly equally as powerful compositions.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)