Sound — 10
Hawthorne Heights rose above a label disbute and marched on even after the death of a band member (Casey Calver, screamer and guitarist). They have the unique ability to blend melody and heavy guitars in a way that no one else can. The guitarwork in Fragile Future is beautiful and just as heavy as the guitarwork in "If Only You Were Lonely". "Somewhere In Between" I couldn't stop playing during the pre-release full album stream online. The fast-paced verses and emotional chorus work perfectly. That is some riff used for the breakdown. It illustrates Hawthorne Heights' trademark Drop D Flat style and reminds me of "Niki FM" in that respect. Some of these songs are tributes to Casey and some are on relationships. The first one is about record labels. This album blends metal, powerpunk, emo, and hard rock. I love it. The guitars are still heavy. These songs are perfect. Those of you who stopped listening to Hawthorne Heights when the screaming stopped--you are missing out. The clean vocals don't stick out at all; they blend very well with the music. You'd have to fool yourself into thinking there's going to be screaming in order to feel something lacking. Just accept the fact that the lyrics are clean.
Lyrics — 10
J.T. Woodruff's voice is so soothing to the ears and his contribution to Fragile Future proves it. His voice never cracks and his soft singing is just as powerful as when he belts out his lyrics. Towards the end of "The Business of Paper Stars," he sings in a low octave and then rises and the effect is exciting. He definitely sings more forcefully than he did on their sophomore effort "If Only You Were Lonely". For that album his voice was a little more than a whisper. The lyrics themselves leave a lot to be explored. However, we all know that "Four Becomes One" is a contribution to Casey Calvert. And Casey does deserve it. The lyrics are simple yet from the heart and the chorus raises spirits, for J.T. is saying all the band members are one just like they were from the start. It is unclear to me the significance of "Come Back Home," although it sounds like a song about a relationship in which the girlfriend has left for some time. I find it eerie that the song "Rescue Me" existed even before Casey died because the chorus fits the situation perfectly. I saw Casey playing Rescue Me at Warped Tour 2007. J.T.'s lyrics always go along with the music. I love the gang vocals on the breakdown of "321". It makes the song sound like metal. "Fragile Future" is obviously different from "If Only You Were Lonely" in that there is no screaming on "Fragile Future". Casey's screaming on their second album fit and added excitement, yes, and I did enjoy hearing that. But it definitely is time Hawthorne Heights put out an album with no screaming at all, and I was waiting for that day to come. It's just a shame it had to happen with a tragedy. I can't see any place for screaming on this album anyway. It's perfect the way it is.
Overall Impression — 10
The drums are crisp and loud. Kudos to Eron for doing a great job yet again. The bass line is nice, the guitars heavy and perfectly tuned to Drop D Flat, and J.T. Woodruff's voice is music to everyone's ears. A lot of bands don't use enough distortion on their guitars and their songs just lack that powerful rock sound. Hawthorne Heights still plays heavy. (Although their first album isn't as heavy as their second and third albums.) The best song off the album is "Somewhere In Between". Then follows "Rescue ME". I love the chord progressions, love the flow of the album and how great the band members sound together. I do wish they had done more gang vocals because it adds to the overall energy. I know they're trying to create an effect by playing softly for the verses of "Disaster" but I think they should have used a more metal approach to those parts of the song. Other than that, this album is perfect. If this album were stolen/lost, I would definitley buy it again.