Crutch became a band back in 1997. However, after two member changes and a decision to take the band out as a touring band, the band changed their name to Aletheian. Earlier in 2003, Aletheian released an awesome album titled Apolutrosis. However, back in 2001, before those major changes took place, the band (as Crutch) released their first album called Hope Prevails. For those who've heard Aletheian and have never took the time to go back and check out the band's first album, may this review serve as a notice that you should make every effort to find a copy of this disc. And for those who've already had the priveledge of owning the Crutch album....yeah, your catching on....you need to make every effort seek out a copy of the Aletheian album.
It doesn't really matter which name this band goes by, the name of the game is brutal and technical progressive death metal. While with Aletheian, the band seemed to experiment quite a bit more, Crutch seems to be a lot more straightforward...if you could call it that. On Hope Prevails, Crutch takes some technical death metal and mixes it up with acoustic guitars, two different growling vocal styles, some clean spoken vocals, preaching samples, funky bass lines, and a few other items to keep the listener from becoming lulled into a trance from hearing nothing but the same sound for 40 minutes.
Overall the band plays a more mid-paced style of death metal. Nothing really slow and doomy and nothing ultra fast. Just a lot of chugga-chugga guitars with....well, I take that back....the band does a good amount of fast riffing, just not a lot of blasting and going berserk. The song "Illumination", which is one of my favorites, does incorporate some blasting and plenty of double-bass. The band just doesn't rely solely on those items.
Lyrically, the band has obviously spent a lot of effort on what they have to say. Speaking on many subjects, from the evils of the tongue, to moving on in spite of the past, to abortion, to evolution/creation. The song "Embrace the Beauty" discusses the dwelling on past mistakes, "Self-inflicted torture/the everlasting pain/of revisited experiences of yesterday/Walking backwards through life/ever dwelling on the uncontrollable/Perception of hope/withers to bitter disillusionment." However, in the end, there is a way out..."Memories that once tore the soul apart/sealed away in a whitewashed history/No longer strangled by a hopeless outlook/Embrace the beauty of a new beginning/Embrace the gift of grace and mercy." Great advice for those dealing with past mistakes and having problems with it consuming their lives.
Another great line from the song "Proverbs" discusses the tragedy of abortion in relation to America turning a blind eye, "The only thing more staggering than the magnitude of the slaughter/is the magnitude of God's patience". Powerful!
If you're worried about production, the band does a pretty good job here. Not perfect, but definitely nothing to whine and complain about. While I probably enjoy the Aletheian album more, due it part to it's more creative flare, this album by Crutch is nothing to despair about. You can check out sound samples or order the album online at http://www.crutchonline.com . (Review by Matt)