Review by Dom Vigil
The Pledge is Hunter Valentine’s last release before going on hiatus, and this explosive six song EP is the perfect “so long for now” to fans, sure to keep listeners both satisfied and longing for more until they return. Kicking things off with high energy is the opening track, “Hurricane,” which is carried by pounding drums, strong bass work, powerful lead vocals and even more energetic backing vocals to carry it forward. “Hurricane” is big, the perfect opening for this release, making it apparent that Hunter Valentine plan on going out with a bang.
Following “Hurricane” is “Sick Sister,” which feels a little darker and more edgy than the big, poppy, opener. But even with the change in sound, “Sick Sister” is still strong for many of the same reasons as “Hurricane.” Powerful, prominent vocals carry the song forward while stunning harmonies back things up, and the pounding instrumentals are just as strong in this track. However, the high points in this song come in the changes of sound, when it goes from big and poppy to fast paced and aggressive, spearheaded by screams. The unclean vocals come and go with ease before transitioning perfectly back into a clean chorus fast enough to give listeners whiplash. And where “Sick Sister” is significantly more aggressive and dark, “Empire Of Nothing” shows us the softer side of Hunter Valentine. This is the first song on the EP that really feels like a goodbye, but not in a sad sense at all, especially in lines like, “You’re one of us/You’re stuck with us.” The vocals on this track are very sweet and smooth compared to the powerful, aggressive vocals on the first two songs, and the vocal harmonies and lighter tone of the song are very beautiful. When “Empire Of Nothing” fades out, it’s with a sense of happiness and hope.
Going right back into the darker sound found on “Sick Sister” is “Black Out Nights.” This track feels like an anthem, with pounding drums driving it forward. The drums aren’t the only strong point of the song, though. From the dirty sounding guitar and bass work to the crisp, passionate vocals, “Black Out Nights,” much like “Sick Sister,” changes pace in the blink of an eye. And then there’s “Burn With It,” which takes everything you think you know about The Pledge and turns it on its head. Similar to “Empire Of Nothing,” the vocals on this track are sweet and beautiful, and instrumentally, this song sounds nothing like the rest of the EP, with a more folky sound. “Burn With It” is a standout, and a stunning one at that. The emotional, raspy vocals are perfect for the tone of the song, and just when you think it couldn’t get better, it does, particularly in the chorus. The raspy, yet catchy, “You’re gonna burn, baby, burn,” coupled with the soft background vocals makes “Burn With It” soulful and timeless.
“The Pledge” closes out the EP, and is unsurprisingly stunning, building and building up until the end. It seems, as The Pledge goes on, it just gets more passionate, emotional and explosive. Even songs like “Burn With It” have some of that raw energy that opens up the EP and carries it forward. While the ending may feel bittersweet, fans can rejoice knowing that this will not be the last time they will hear Hunter Valentine, and at the very least, they have a stunning EP to hold them over until next time.
Listen to "Hurricane" or "Empire Of Nothing"