At the risk of beating a dead horse (and let’s be real, with everything that’s gone on in the last year, it is truly dead), it never ceases to amaze how many bands can pull off Dance Gavin Dance’s sound exponentially better than they can. Granted, the only real prerequisite for that is not dousing your post-hardcore / mathcore in sugar and mutating it into a truly hideous racket, but the point still stands. It’s why Hail The Sun in recent years have taken to shamelessly lapping their quasi-forebears, as former second fiddles in the whole ‘swancore’ movement that have since broken out into something that unequivocally surpasses it. Simply put, they’ve turned this whole thing into something fantastic.
That came through most prominently in the 2021 album New Age Filth, but it’s not as though it’s all been scrapped for Divine Inner Tension. Rather, it’s the kind of lateral step bands like this frequently make, in that they aren’t strictly evolving but keeping what’s already there well-maintained. In Hail The Sun’s case, they’re practically veterans now when it comes to post-hardcore interspersed with technical, progressive flashes. You’re not going to find any sizable deficiencies; the pedigree they’ve amassed stands on its own at this stage, casting shadows of Coheed And Cambria and Circa Survive in sound, scale and creativity.
And in the overlap of everything that Hail The Sun fit into, you get something that definitely feels like its own animal. Songs like Maladapted or The Story Writes Itself come rooted in the immovable melodies of the scene-ended post-hardcore that Donovan Melero’s higher register can slot among fairly flawlessly, while upping the strength and drama in how constantly shifting it is. Meanwhile, Chunker’s sweltering guitar blitz and some frankly insane rhythm work on Little Song cast glances towards more full-on prog, without getting lost in their own spiral thanks to some crucial grounding. To regrettably bring up Dance Gavin Dance again, Hail The Sun have a far wider base of knowledge than they ever have when it comes to how this all works. This isn’t plastic and obnoxious in the slightest, while still built on the same fundamentals to prove it can work with just the barest bit of application.
Now, to be totally fair, Divine Inner Tension in particular does find itself raised much higher when placed next to something so obviously flawed within the same lane. If its predecessor could stand on its own uninterrupted, the stability here is slightly lessened, though not by an amount to knock back too much praise. It’s the occupational hazard that this genre brings, where despite a pitch that notes its boundless creativity, in practice it’s not quite as possible. But Hail The Sun are able to withstand it, and even try and break past it when they pick up brighter, more delicate tones that adorn 60-Minute Session Blocks or the interlude (In My Dream). There’s effort put into this, a statement whose paradoxical qualities melt away when considering how much music like this exists on autopilot, and how Hail The Sun have evidently avoided that.
It is still what it is at the end of the day, but you’re unlikely to find a better version than what Hail The Sun continue to cook up. Theirs really does prioritise the magnetism for a sound in which it’s typically in short supply, while still adopting the freewheeling, somewhat-angular presentation that’ll get the lovers of swancore flocking in. As stated before though, something like this transcends gimmickry micro-genre classifications like that; there’s really no need to box them in so tightly to no benefit. On an album about being guided by bigger, universal forces, it’s only fitting that Hail The Sun aim as high and wide as they do, and take off with rocket-fuelled propulsion like this.
For fans of: Coheed And Cambria, Circa Survive, The Mars Volta
‘Divine Inner Tension’ by Hail The Sun is released on 11th August on Rude Records / Equal Vision Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall