Give up the Ghost and the Hope Conspiracy are part of a crop of hardcore bands bringing a traditional sound back to the underground. The two young Boston-based groups brush aside the bloated metal riffs and maniacal math-rock time signatures that have been popular for the past few years, concentrating instead on cheater beats, speed-demon riffage, and honest, up-front lyrics.
Of course, aside from the similarities in musical form, the two groups don't have all that much in common -- a point illustrated by a comparison of their latest albums. Give Up the Ghost's Background Music, released under the band name American Nightmare before legal problems ensued, wallows in the pain of singer Wes Eisold's failed relationships and personal demons ("Since February '79 I've OD'ed on lonesome 22 times"). The Hope Conspiracy's Endnote, on the other hand, is more like the final "fuck you" in a disintegrating relationship, led by frontman Kevin Baker's screams of "Drive a stake through the heart/Let them know we'll tear it apart/Tonight we'll fight/Tonight we're ready to die."
Onstage, Eisold rocks back on his heels, shrieking painfully. Baker stalks the front of the stage like a fighter, pouring his aggression out on the audience with verbal body blows. Chances are, no matter what your disposition, you'll identify with one of them. But can you take the abuse?