Title:With or Without
Label:Blood & Ink Records
I gave this album a 3 in my first draft of this review. I then changed it to a 4; let me tell you why.
Household is yet another piece in the large revival of 90s style raw hardcore/metalcore, a artistic look back at a time when passion and honesty played a foundational role in a band’s identity. Slick production didn’t hide vapid messages and lazy songwriting, so all you were left with was if a band could grab ahold of you and make you passionate about their music. If Household had released With or Without in 1996, it would been one of those “must have” albums. In 2014, it still is.
With or Without is a mash-up of melodic hardcore, chaos, and post-hardcore that screams and churns its way through seven all too short songs never letting up for a moment. Household seem dead set on creating an album that captured the energy of being at a live show and getting head-walked on; at least that’s what it sounds like. Even in its softest moment, “Trials”, With or Without is kinetic and wrenching. Household, even for a newer band, seem to have complete control over their sound, showing maturity beyond veteran bands’ years. They have worked out their songs, and found little ways to make every track special; the little melody parts in “Purpose” for example are just…perfect amidst the chaos of the rest of the track.
The record just continues to move at that pace even after I have listened to it over ten times now.
The rawness of the record is very interesting, and in fact in the detail that swung my score from a 3 to 4. Household cannot, and should not make a “produced” album, it would rob them of the soul that makes their energy so attractive. That bareness, a sense that they left nothing behind in the studio, informs their lyrics and drives their songs. My biggest drawback for With or Without was originally that it wasn’t a very sonically pleasing album: the drums are a little low/soft in the mix, the strings over take subtleties in some of the songs. There are some time queues missed. So while I liked the songs and the band, I gave it a 3 and tried to move on.
I rediscovered their video for Reservoir a few days later, and I wrestled with my decision
As I kept coming back to Household, I began to love the things that had originally been faults in my mind. The mistakes, the mix, started to become PART of the sound and not a hinderance. I like them. I began to understand that we continue to need bands like Household, bands that are willing to be real with their words and their music and not allow their art to become synthesized and processed until it is indiscernible from 90 percent of their peers. With or Without is not a perfect record, but it IS a great one. One that is worthy of your time and your affection.
Overall: Household deserve to be the new “it” band in our scene. They recorded a laid bare, honest album that will be remembered as the beginning of something truly great. With or Without will make you want to go out and find the band on tour so you can scream the words at the top of your lungs to try and match half the guts that were put into this record. Flaws and all, With or Without nothing short of phenomenal.
RIYL: Worthwhile, Life In Your Way, La Dispute, Counterparts, Stretch Arm Strong