It's year-end list season, and we've been posting a bunch of lists, as well as reading lots of other people's lists, which means we've been coming across some great albums that we regrettably missed earlier this year. One of my new favorite discoveries of 2020 is Hollow Hope, the debut full-length by Denver hardcore band FAIM, who previously released a demo (2017), a 7" (2018), and a split with Discourage and Lift (2019).

I've seen FAIM get a few comparisons to Punch and Modern Life Is War, both of which I hear a lot of too, and they made this album with Punch collaborator Jack Shirley, who's also worked with Deafheaven, Gouge Away, Loma Prieta, Oathbreaker, State Faults, and tons of other great bands, and who's a perfect fit for FAIM's sound. Hollow Hope exists somewhere between the refreshing simplicity of hardcore, the desperation of screamo, and the brooding atmosphere of post-hardcore, not really fitting neatly into any of those subgenres while appealing to fans of all of them. The album's as dark and heavy as it is fast and exhilarating.

Lead vocalist Kat has an awesomely cutthroat delivery, which is contrasted by guitarist Chris' more guttural bark, and they use their ear-piercing voices to deliver unflinching lyricism. With a James Baldwin sample on a song that references Jim Crow and mass incarceration ("Division Ave") and a cathartic title track that asks "what can I do to kill the abuser inside my head?", Hollow Hope honors punk and hardcore's traditions of looking inwards at the self and outwards at systemic injustice, and FAIM navigate between the personal and the political with grace.

"Hollow Hope is this idea that we can try and be hopeful about the future of our world by noticing the positive changes, but we end up being overpowered by a sense of hopelessness because the destruction that is happening to everything is just overwhelming," Kat told Discovered Magazine. Those ideas and feelings come across loud and clear in these songs, and if you haven't done so already, you can hear them for yourself below.

FAIM also share members with emo band Broken Record (who released I Died Laughing this year) and crusty hardcore band Thieves Guild (who dropped Class Hatred last year), and they're on Safe Inside Records' Please Stay Safe Inside: A Compilation Benefiting Those Affected by COVID​-​19 compilation from earlier this year.

Hollow Hope is also out on vinyl via Safe Inside (order yours at the Deathwish webstore) and on tape via Version City Blues.

I haven't seen FAIM yet (covid, etc), but they seem like they rip live: