Despite their more aggressive screamcore tendencies, Merthyr Tydfil six-piece the Blackout have constantly been in the shadows of their homeland's premier metal outfit, Lostprophets, since arriving on the thriving Welsh scene in the mid-noughties. Their third album, simply titled Hope, suggests those comparisons aren't going to fall by the wayside anytime soon. Indeed, packed with radio-friendly soaring choruses, anthemic call-and-response chants, and Gavin Butler's clean vocals, which bear more than a passing resemblance to Ian Watkins' impassioned tones, the follow-up to 2009's The Best in Town seems designed to fill arenas rather than mosh pits. It's an unashamedly mainstream move which sees the band veer dangerously close to tribute act territory, particularly on the soaring emo of the title track and "The Last Goodbye," while the surprisingly strong '80s influence which runs through its 11 tracks will do little to placate fans of their earlier aggressive work, whether it's The Joshua Tree-era U2-inspired riffs of opener "Ambition Is Critical" and atmospheric finale "The Storm," or the chugging Simple Minds-esque Brat Pack rock of "Keep On Moving." The Radio 1 playlist may now be in reach, but Hope works best when it pumps up the adrenaline and goes for broke, as on the Rage Against the Machine-influenced call to arms of "No More Waiting," the blistering post-hardcore of "The Devil Inside," and the swaggering punk-pop of "This Is Our Time," while the groove-laden nu-metal of "Higher & Higher," a collaboration with L.A. rapper Hyro Da Hero, proves they're capable of thinking outside the box. Ordinary and enthralling in equal measures, Hope is an inconsistent affair which should see them trouble the charts for the first time, but which is unlikely to boost their credibility.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien