Through a Nightmare, Darkly
Open up the Sky
The second studio album from the progressive metal quartet Hope for the Dying finds the Jonesboro, Ill., foursome mixing more ambience and intricacies into its songs. The opening cut, “Acceptance,” plays with background strings and acoustic arpeggios that seep and settle below Brendan Hengle’s complex drum patterns like a thick, sonic fog. But like a sudden attack from above, the guitars of Jack Daniels (his real name) and James Houseman come thundering down like a maelstrom of metal. Add to this Josh Ditto’s demonic-sounding howls, and it’s easy to forget that Hope for the Dying are a Christian band. “Reformation” follows, sounding more ferocious; Ditto’s unrelenting shrieks and screams sounds like he’s gargling hot lava. Underneath his monstrous temper tantrums, the band hammers out labyrinthine arrangements—some are so sinewy that members of Rush would be left scratching their heads. Yet in the midst of all these mathematical changes, the band never deviates from making strong melodies. In the standout song “Iniquitous,” the group works in three melodies at once: synths, guitars, and Ditty all share a voice as Hengle lays out rhythmic steps like a stonemason.