Discography Ranking: Haste the Day's Metalcore Legacy
Part of a stacked "second generation" lineup of Solid State Records, a then young label, Haste the Day is an American Christian metalcore band from the state of Indiana. Although they were never anything as groundbreaking as other Solid State bands of the time (see Underoath, August Burns Red, and Norma Jean), Haste the Day represents a decade of the perfection of 2000's era metalcore. What makes Haste the Day such a stand out band is their genuine energy, familiar song structure, and catchy hooks & choruses. Admittedly, I only got into the band at the dead end of their career with the release of "Attack Of The Wolf King", but as my tastes and opinions have continued to open up and grow since then, Haste the Day has remained as a band that I can always put on shuffle and have a good time. As such, I thought I'd go through the band's discography and rank the albums top to bottom, as well as give some of my personal thoughts on each of the albums, in a kind of mini review fashion. So here is my personal ranking of all of Haste the Day's studio releases, starting from the bottom.
6. Burning Bridges (2004)
When a band doesn't have a single bad album in their discography, it shouldn't come as a surprise that their first full release would be comparatively the worst of them all. "Burning Bridges" definitely falls under this category. It is by no means a bad album in any way, but it's a pretty standard first album for any metalcore band starting in the early 2000's. As far as average goes though, there are still some pretty memorable songs on this album that foreshadow how Haste the Day would develop on future projects. "Blue 42", "Concerning The Way It Was", and "Substance" are great examples, but the most important track on this album by far is "American Love" (linked in the video above). "American Love" is, in my opinion, the beginning of Haste the Day's perfection of the metalcore sound. The song kicks off with a tempo setting guitar groove and drum fill, followed by Jimmy Ryan's hard vocals that you can't help by scream along with. The pacing is kept interesting with appropriately timed breakdowns and build ups that change up the grooves of the melodies, and there's this transition to a beautiful chorus of clean, harmonizing vocals from the rest of the band that slows the song down before dropping into one final, heavy breakdown. Again, this is a pretty average formula for any metalcore band, but it's the skill, sound, and memorability of this song that sets Haste the Day well above average. The rest of "Burning Bridges" kind of blends together with similar sounding tracks, and at the album's worst it's an 8 minute closing instrumental track that just loops the same clean guitar melody THE ENTIRE TIME. "Outro" is just a worthless excuse for an outro to the album, where I think the previous track "Breaking My Own Heart" closes the album nicely.
5. Dreamer (2008)
I struggled a lot trying to decide where to rank this album in the discography. "Dreamer" is a transitional album, both in the musical and literal sense for Haste the Day. In terms of a literal transition for the band, before the album released Jason Bames, the original lead guitarist, was removed from the band after renouncing his Christian faith. Additionally, after the album released Brennan and Devin Chaulk left the band, leaving Mike Murphy as the only remaining founding member. As for a musical transition, "Dreamer" marks a heavy and more technical sound for Haste the Day, compared to previous albums. So although the album has arguably the least standout tracks, and is probably the album I listen to straight through the least, it still benefits from large improvements in production, and a more modern metalcore sound. "68", "Resolve", and "Mad Man" (linked above) shows what's changed the best; while the same Haste the Day formula is still there, softer sections have been traded for a cleaner sound, and more involved lead guitar riffs. The drumming and bass have also received an upgrade in intensity in "Dreamer", but the bass guitar has less of a presence. Overall, if "Burning Bridges" is an average early 2000's metalcore album, then "Dreamer" is an average late 2000's metalcore album. It's a good album, one that I feel confident enough to say is objectively better than "Burning Bridges", but when you look at other metalcore albums that came out the same year as "Dreamer" (namely Bring Me the Horizon's "Suicide Season", Norma Jean's "The Anti Mother", and Underoath's "Lost in the Sound of Separation"), it's clear that "Dreamer" is not necessarily an outstanding album either.
4. When Everything Falls (2005)
It's crazy how much of an improvement Haste the Day made in the span of one year with "When Everything Falls". The instruments harmonize and cooperate with each other much better, the melodies are much more catchy and stand out from each other, and the groove has gotten increasingly difficult to resist. The biggest improvement by far is the increased usage of clean vocals, and softer guitar sections outside of just the chorus. Going back to what I was saying about the formula in "American Love", "When Everything Falls" uses this formula in pretty much every song on this album, and it's so dang good front to back. Despite still not being the most new or impressive sounding album of the time, "When Everything Falls" is easily the most fun to listen to of all the Haste the Day albums. It's heavy enough to still be a head banger, but it's also soft enough to be able join in on singing the vocals. Tracks that really emulate this feeling would be "Fallen", "The Perfect Night", "Long Way Down", and of course the title track "When Everything Falls" (linked above). There's really not a lot more I can say about this album since there's objectively nothing special about it, other than it's very consistent, unlike the albums that I've ranked lower than this one. Everything about this album is simple at the core in terms of metalcore, but its energy and memorability keeps it from being just an average metalcore album. Heck, they even managed to put an appropriate instrumental song into the album this time.
3. Pressure The Hinges (2007)
Before Haste the Day had a massive band member change up, "Pressure The Hinges" was undoubtedly the peak of the old band. The album is the first time Stephen Keech appears on lead vocals, replacing Jimmy Ryan, and is honestly one of the improvements found in this album (sorry Jimmy fans). Stephen's screaming and hard vocals are much easy to follow than Jimmy Ryan's, and he has a bit more depth in his range of vocals, that I feel adds more emotion to the songs. Personal thoughts on vocalists aside, "Pressure The Hinges" takes everything that Haste The Day has perfected in the previous two albums, and adds an extra layer of atmosphere and emotion to it. This is immediately obvious in how the album opens with "Eye Of The Needle", a very spacey and hymn-like instrumental track. Instead of just being a hard hitting album with groovy tunes, the tracks on "Pressure The Hinges" have a lot more weight behind them. These vibes reflect themselves in not only the very personable, self reflecting lyrics, which sometimes read like psalms, but also in how the songs pace themselves melodically. You can really hear this in the title track "Pressure The Hinges", "The Minor Prophets", "White Collar", and "Stitches" (linked above-- side note, if this song isn't a great self-confidence booster, I don't know what is). I also want to point out that "Chorus of Angels" is one of the most incredible, and --no pun intended-- angelic metalcore songs I have ever heard. There is just so much beauty in this storm of an album, which really caps off the perfection of the early 2000's metalcore formula.
2. Coward (2015)
This is where my album ranking has the most personal bias, over objectivity. "Coward" was a crowd funded final(?) album from a previously disbanded Haste the Day. I myself helped fund the album, and have a signed copy of the LP sitting right behind me as I type this. The wonderful thing about "Coward" is that it brought all of the members who had ever been on Haste the Day (sans Jason Bames) together, to collaborate with each other to make a full length album. The result is a modern fusion of old and new; a sort of cross between "When Everything Falls", "Pressure The Hinges", and "Attack Of The Wolf King". It really feels like all of Haste the Day is represented on this album, while still feeling very fresh and new. All of the best parts of the band can be found on tracks like "Take", "World", title track "Coward", and "Gnaw" (linked above). My only gripe with this album is that it's pretty easy to tell which tracks had more involvement from certain Haste the Day members, and it hurts the cohesiveness of the album as whole. That's to be expected though when so many different influences come together on an album, so it doesn't really have a strong bearing on the overall enjoyment of the album. It's a shame that this is probably the last we will hear from Haste the Day, because I feel like there's still so much potential from the band to grow into and potentially expand upon the modern metalcore sound.
1. Attack Of The Wolf King (2010)
I promise you, the fact that "Attack Of The Wolf King" is my number one Haste the Day album, and also the first album I heard by them, is purely coincidence. I've seen disdain for this album from a few "old" Haste the Day purists, stating that the Haste the Day on this album is too different to be the same band, but that's simply not true. Sure in terms of band members Mike Murphy, the bassist, is the only original founding member present, but in terms of progression "Attack Of The Wolf King" still feels like a proper successor to the transition "Dreamer" brought. The technical prowess and raw talent that was attempted in "Dreamer" finally sees fruition in this album, where every song on the album impresses. The complexity of guitar riffs have stepped up, the drum lines and fills are much more elaborate than they've ever been, and Stephen Keech's vocals continue to excel. The aggression is especially unrelenting on this album, songs like "Travesty", "Walk With A Crooked Spine", "Wake Up The Sun", and "Dog Like Vultures" (linked above) give little to no space for catching your breath. That's not to say that Haste the Day has abandoned the slower and prettier sound they had on previous albums, in fact "White As Snow" is one of the greatest metalcore ballads out there, but for sure "Attack Of The Wolf King" is much less about soft choruses than even "Dreamer" was. This album is one of the greatest metalcore albums out there, and by far the best representation of a perfect Haste the Day album. This makes it undeniably the best Haste the Day album in the entire discography.