I don’t like to ascribe special meaning to happenstance and coincidence, but merely ONE WEEK after releasing my final missive on The Dear Hunter‘s Act IV – one which I assumed would be the last thing I would say about this band for quite some time to come – I am now back finding myself on the precipice of yet another daunting task. The band, as they are so want to do recently, dropped a mega-ton weight of news today in the form of a new album announcement, a big tour announcement, and a plethora of news, background information, and sketches of future plans from Casey Crescenzo.
First off, the most important bit of news. Act V, whose entire mouthful of a title is Hymns With The Devil In Confessional, will be released September 9, 2016. On the website for the album you can view the very in-theme album art, a new track (embedded below), and a very long message from Casey. You should absolutely read the entire thing yourself, but the major takeaways from it are as such:
- Acts IV and V were largely written/conceived together and at least partially recorded together (the orchestral parts, performed by Awesöme Orchestra throughout, were almost certainly recorded in the same sessions), which explains why they’re being released only one year apart.
- Act V will be the final “rock” act of this series according to Casey. He’s vague as to what that means exactly, but from what I can surmise what he’s saying is that the final record of the series, Act VI, will not be conceived within the sole context of the band as it currently stands. This likely means it will take on a much more free-form format, likely involving a lot of orchestration, guest musicians, and will not be beholden to the progressive rock opera sounds that the series has built up thus far. Anything beyond that appears to be completely up in the air.
- Casey emphasized that this does not mean that The Dear Hunter as they currently stand are breaking up or necessarily even going on hiatus after the next tour cycle. It does however appear that Casey will be taking a more mercurial stance when it comes to writing for “the band” from here on out though. When he has ideas that make sense for them he will bring them in, and everything else will be whatever his mind wants.
- This fall the band will embark on what Casey is calling “The Final Act Tour,” which doesn’t really help with the whole “band isn’t breaking up” thing. He claims that this shouldn’t be interpreted as grimly as it sounds though, and that it will be “a celebration of everything that has brought me to this point.”
- The tour will also feature what he is calling “Story Time with Casey,” which appears to be opportunities to communicate with Casey about anything and everything involving the Acts in small, intimate settings. It’s unclear whether these will be a part of the current tour dates or separate one-off events.
So, that’s a lot to take in. It’s honestly not worth spending too much time speculating on what all of this means beyond this album and tour, so let’s just talk about what we do know in the new song, titled “Gloria,” and the album art.
“Gloria” seems to combine some of the more chipper immediacy of Act IV tracks like “Waves” and “The Squeaky Wheel” with a sense of urgency and a darker edge in a way that, as Casey seems so incredibly good at, sounds both entirely familiar and entirely fresh at the same time. The chorus is as huge and emotional as ever, the orchestral arrangements are entirely on-point, and there’s another killer guitar solo around the 3-minute mark. Judging how this album is going to sound based on one track is impossible given how that went with Act IV, but I would be shocked if Act V overall didn’t have a darker and more insidious edge to it just based on where we left off in the story (The Boy finding himself blackmailed by The Pimp/Priest and seemingly out of options). There was also a hint of frenetic synths in the background that might indicate a movement towards some more moody/atmospheric sounds. Once again, completely impossible to know at this time, but if there’s any concern that Act V certainly could not live up to its predecessor so soon after, “Gloria” absolutely assuages most of those fears.
As for the album art, we’ve got our tree, so, check. The environment is obviously far darker, cooler, and more menacing-looking than the bright and warm autumn foliage of Act IV. That art also featured a wider view of The City, whereas this focuses in on a single structure in a creepy-looking forest, which I have to assume is intended to represent The Church and TP/P. While Act IV opened with the illusion of hope and rebirth, Act V will have completely shed all of that to reveal the darkness underneath.
So, yes, I may be exhausted and weary and feel as if I just pushed a boulder up a gigantic hill only to discover that the actual peak was hiding right behind it. But you know I’ll be here ready to provide all of the TDH coverage and dissection that any of you could possibly want and more. Prepare yourselves, friends. Fall is coming.
Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional is out 9/9/16 through Equal Vision Records. You can pre-order the album and many other goodies here. Tour dates are below.
Jul 16 PromoWest Fest Columbus, OH
Sep 09 DOUG FIR LOUNGE Portland, OR
Sep 10 NEUMOS Seattle, WA
Sep 13 The Complex Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 14 Marquis Theatre Denver, CO
Sep 16 Fine Line Music Hall Minneapolis, MN
Sep 20 The Ready Room St Louis, MO
Sep 21 Metro Chicago, IL
Sep 23 The Loving Touch Ferndale, MI
Sep 24 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH
Sep 25 The Waiting Room Buffalo, NY
Sep 27 The Met Pawtucket, RI
Sep 29 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA
Sep 30 Union Transfer Philadelphia, PA
Oct 01 Webster Hall New York, NY
Oct 05 Rock & Roll Hotel Washington, DC
Oct 07 Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, NC
Oct 08 Exit In Nashville, TN
Oct 09 Terminal West @ King Plow Arts Center Atlanta, GA
Oct 12 The Social Orlando, FL
Oct 14 White Oak Music Hall Houston, TX
Oct 15 The Mohawk Austin, TX
Oct 16 Gas Monkey Bar N Grill Dallas, TX
Oct 20 Crescent Ballroom Phoenix, AZ
Oct 21 The Irenic San Diego, CA
Oct 22 The Glass House Pomona, CA
Oct 25 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA
Oct 28 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA