by Conor Battles
Akron post-hardcore five-piece I Hate It Too combines swirling, distorted rock with melodic emo sensibilities on their self-titled debut EP.
Vocalist Eddie Gancos, guitarists Shane Sehmer and Brian Sloan, bassist Marc West and drummer John Vorhies have a unique sound within the post-hardcore scene, emphasizing the genre’s emo roots with their heavy sound and moody vibe.
The six-song EP’s brisk 17 minutes are an enjoyable run through some of the best that northeast Ohio’s booming post-hardcore scene has to offer. From soaring, catchy hooks to powerful, overdriven guitar work, I Hate It Too has crafted a debut that sums up their sound and vision in a consistently engaging way.
Throughout the EP, the band’s reverence for emo and math rock stalwarts like American Football and The Promise Ring are plain. On “Parrot,” arpeggiated chords weave delicate melodies for Eddie to soul-search through. The album’s rawest emotional moments come courtesy of his intense vocals, as heard on “Parrot” when he sings, “Waking up your brain drains/And I can’t be saved/I’m not worth saving/Just walk away.”
It is important to note, however, that I Hate It Too is much too clever to let the tropes of their genre define them. Their songs can be morose, but there is a vitality and wit to the songwriting here that goes deeper than conventional doom-and-gloom that emo is capable of. On “Hazel,” Eddie implores, “Can you help me out, man?/I have to catch that bus/Some fare and a drink to crush.”
The EP’s standout track is “Slump,” a beautiful slow burn that opens on quiet, palm-muted guitar and the distant strains of Eddie’s pained vocals before giving way to a driving, anthemic full-band stomp.
The music of I Hate It Too is designed for crowds; for sloppy singalongs in rowdy Emo Night basements. “Slump” is easily the apex of their craft, an expertly designed earworm that melds post-hardcore volume and emo malaise into something greater than the sum of its parts. The fact that it does so while throwing in a slick Elvis Costello reference and a killer central guitar riff makes it all the more impressive.
I Hate It Too’s strength is their willingness to bask in all the trappings of their post-hardcore and emo origins while stirring the pot just enough to stand out. They don’t exactly defy the formula so much as bend it to their own taste. Their self-titled EP is a bite-sized portrait of just how this scene continues to thrive and revamp itself with the times. The emotional clarity and honesty of this record is just as stark as anything else this crowded genre has seen, but it’s delivered in a way that feels fresh and invigorating.
This is an album that is designed to be memorized. Cry to it, sing along to it and celebrate it with a pit full of like-minded kids who insist that the scene never went away.
PLEASEBOX: // Stream or download I Hate It Too below
Conor Battles is a journalism student at Kent State University.