Review || HAWK - "Tolerance's Paradox" EP

I'm not sure how to start this piece. I wasn't planning to write about this EP, let alone so impulsively; I'm not even sure if I would have checked it out in the first place if my socials hadn't blown up but what the hell. HAWK is a four-piece metal band hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and oldschool metalcore fans probably know them as the reincarnation of This Or The Apocalypse. Modern metalcore fans like myself may recognize the band's mainman, Ricky Armellino, as the guitarist of Ice Nine Kills. Today, HAWK introduced to the world their debut EP, titled "Tolerance's Paradox".

The EP consists of 6 songs, three of which ("Mileage", "Counter Ops" and "Alibi"), had already been released as singles with accompanying videos. Today, a fourth video, the opening song "Clvrmfkr", became available as well. I listened to the recording quite a few times before I saw the video and it helped me form a more integral opinion. This however wasn't the case with the first couple of singles, where the image distorted quite a lot my perception of the songs. Not that the videos were bad in any way, but their intensity didn't leave room to fully appreciate the track.And although "Mileage" was closer to my taste palate, "Counter Ops" never convinced me so I dismissed it rather easily. I have mentioned numerous times in the past that I don't trust singles in general and this is exactly the reason why. The stand-alone tracks don't do the final result justice and essentially discouraged me from giving HAWK any further attention (including not even giving "Alibi" a shot). Nevertheless, listening to "Tolerance's Paradox" and focusing on the music alone, and taking in said singles within a context, they both fell into place.
"Clvrmfkr" has a solid core, due largely to the ballsy riffage, and I really like how the orchestral arrangements
build tension. The chorus is very plaisant and has the type of melody that will stick with you. I think that the first thing I appreciated here is the production, which is crystal clear and all the intricate elements of the instrumentation are audible. With "Mileage", we see a more playful facet, where the catchy chorus and the alternation of clean vocals and screams are a primary point of focus. I also love how the breakdowns act as intervals of distorted grooviness, interrupting the melodic flow. 
"King With No Survivors" is probably my facorite track on the EP. It is a pure, modern metalcore song in the vein of the releases we've seen throughout this year but at the same time retains a unique character. Not once does it fall under the generic/mainstream label; the instrumentation is consistent and avoids clichés while the vocals are nothing but memorable. The cleans in the verses are emotive and the tone feels radically different than the previous songs. Since they don't indicate otherwise, I will go on and assume that it's Armellino who sings those parts and I'll admit I'm impressed. From what I've seen so far, he has a pretty distinct way of projecting his voice so the versatility here is more than welcome. "Alibi" is another catchy song. I think what I noticed the most are the drum patterns, which I feel have grown a little more confident -and of course the brilliant solo that cloaks the vocals. "Counter Ops" weighs more on the (djenty?) -core element. Giving the song a second chance was more crucial than I want to admit. HAWK is pummeling the listener and then masterfully throw melodious cookies in the form of captivating clean vocals (and backing harmonies), completely juxtaposing the raw vocals and instrumental intensity. 
Lastly, "Universes" closes the EP. This song features Rory Rodriguez of Dayseeker and it's interesting to hear how the band interacts with a new presence. The combination of the vocals worked very well, resulting in a powerful and hard-hitting outcome, which co-exists with, instead of dominating, the artful structural landscape and its complexities. On a final note, I adore the subtle use (and not abuse) of synths, which create an alluring ambience. People should start taking songwriting notes, seriously.

Overall, "Tolerance's Paradox" is spectacular. I approached it with the lowest of expectations and it blew me away from the first song. It's a very well-rounded work that manages to not just challenge the status quo in metalcore, but to actually offer something truly idiosyncratic instead of tasteless and repetitive noise. I don't know the members' musical backgrounds but they certainly know how to cleverly construct a song, in a way that it's both eye(ear?)-catching and aesthetically pleasing to a diverse audience.
I came for the hype, I stayed for the music. 

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