Hawthorne Heights, "Skeletons"

74 Billboard Rating

Following the 2007 death of Hawthorne Heights guitarist/ vocalist Casey Calvert, the post-hardcore act took a more mainstream direction, applying poppier melodies and scream-free vocals to its 2008 album, "Fragile Future." But after a lengthy legal battle with Victory Records and subsequently signing to Wind-up, the band returns to its harder roots on its latest album, "Skeletons." Throughout the set, lead guitarist Micah Carli lends death growls to support the emotional lyrics of vocalist JT Woodruff. Over heavily distorted guitars on the track "End of the Underground," Carli's roar supplements Woodruff's plea of "Please know that you're not alone." But the mood settles with "Gravestones," where screams are replaced with the heavy strumming of an acoustic guitar. And opening cut "Bring You Back" utilizes a familiar touch of pop punk with interwoven vocal melodies. Hawthorne Heights' rediscovery of its heavier roots may be what longtime fans have been yearning for, and also what the band needs to recover from past personal struggles. --Erin Clendaniel