Hopes of Failure is the Thrill Jockey debut for Iowa City doom metal group Aseethe, but by the time the album was released in early 2017, the group had been around for nearly a decade in one form or another, with the only constant member being guitarist/vocalist Brian Barr. Up until this point, most of the band's discography had consisted of splits and a few stand-alone releases, all of which were either self-released or on tiny labels. While Aseethe's personnel has shifted over the years, their music has always been slow, crushing, and repetitive, owing as much to drone music as to Isis and Sleep. Hopes of Failure is easily the most focused, straightforward Aseethe release to date, stripping back much of the noise and experimentation of past recordings and concentrating on sludgy riffs, slowly bashed drums, and sore-throat growling. Their compositions still average around ten minutes each, and while the evenly paced repetition and molasses-slow tempos make them seem simple at first, they do progress and end up somewhere different than where they started. Instrumental "Towers of Dust" is one of the best examples of their dead-on attack, starting out with a thundering riff for a few minutes, then building up to a faster, more intense section, repeating the cycle, then ending up slower and more dramatic. Absolutely monstrous. "Barren Soil" has even more towering riffs, ending up with cathartic multi-tracked screaming. "Into the Sun" is the most ambitious track, clocking in at 14 minutes. After a turbulent beginning, it happens upon a variation of the iconic riff to Black Sabbath's eponymous song, eventually working up to more urgent, frantic sections. Halfway through, the storm clears for a moment, with the guitars becoming spacy and ethereal rather than punishing, and the growled vocals are replaced by Michael Gira-like singing, revealing the lyrics to be reflections on failure and depression. Once the aggression returns, they hold strong to their repetitive riffs until feedback overtakes everything. The album is an intense, highly disciplined expression of disappointment and devastation.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson