Broken Hope is an American death metal band. Having started out as an Obituary soundalike, they gradually evolved into a very unique progressive death metal act before breaking up without having achieved any major success, though their reunion has proven to be the breakthrough that they always sought.
Formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1988 by Joe Ptacek (vocals), Jeremy Wagner and David Duff (guitars), Ed Hughes (bass), and Ryan Stanek (drums), the band made little progress in the first couple of years, which was at least partly because most of the members were still in high school. A pair of demos were eventually released in 1990, though it wasn't until 1991 that Swamped in Gore, their debut, was released to moderate fanfare; additionally, Duff had already left by that time and had been replaced by Brian Griffin. Along with it came the expected battery of touring; come 1993, they released another demo and an EP, and a deal with Metal Blade Records was inked. The Bowels of Repugnance, their first album on that label, arrived later that year. 1994 came and brought some more touring with it, though Hughes left and was replaced by Shaun Glass. Repulsive Conception followed in 1995, and, with the lineup now finally stabilized, Loathing came out in 1997 to surprising acclaim as a Genre Shift to progressive death metal led by Griffin's elegant, intricate guitar work. The good times were not to last, however, as the band found out that Stanek had been taking money that fans had been sending for merch and pocketing it without sending the merch, resulting in an unceremonious ejection by his very angry bandmates.
It was also around this time that Glass formed the nu-metal act SOiL as a side project with three of the members of Oppressor, though it was still just an informal side venture at this point rather than a career. The band also found themselves leaving Metal Blade sometime between 1997 and 1999; it was also around this time that Duane Timlin joined to replace Stanek before leaving in 1999 and being replaced by Larry DeMumbrum, who also left, kicking off a brief revolving door of drummers. Glass, meanwhile, left in 1998 when SOiL began picking up, and a similarly volatile set of bassists came and went, with most of them having a song or two recorded on Grotesque Blessings; of these, Brian Hobbie of Internal Bleeding was the only one who lasted. Ptacek himself left in 2000 and was briefly replaced by Scott Creekmore, but the writing was on the wall. Unable to keep a solid lineup and with most of their momentum dead, Wagner and Griffin decided to call it a day and went on to pursue their own endeavors.
Sometime in the 2000s, Wagner and the others began mulling over the possibility of a reunion, the hopes of which were very nearly dashed when Ptacek committed suicide in 2010; while distraught, Wagner was determined to make the reunion happen. It finally did in 2012, with Wagner and Glass (now out of SOiL) welcoming in Damian Leski (of Gorgasm fame) on vocals, along with Chuck Wepfer on lead guitar and Mike Miczek on drums. This reunion was kicked off by a deal with Century Media Records and a tour with Obituary, Decrepit Birth, Jungle Rot, and Encrust, followed by an appearance at Maryland Deathfest. Omen of Disease, their reunion album, was released in September of 2013 and a tour with Deicide, Disgorge, and Necronomicon followed that was unfortunately marred by band conflict and a brutal attack by a man wielding a set of boxcutters in El Paso that put multiple fans in the hospital with serious injuries. The momentum was there, however, and the band was not sunk; indeed, 2014 has already brought a US tour with Oceano, Fallujah, Rivers of Nihil, and Kublai Khan, along with a European tour with Immolation; the former was a shitshow, the latter was quite successful. Numerous festival appearances also followed along with news of an upcoming album, though Glass and Wepfer left in December to focus on The Bloodline; Diego Soria and Matt Szlachta were their respective replacements. Mutilated and Assimilated, their seventh full-length, was released in June 2017.
- Broken Hope (1990) - demo
- Demo 2 (1990)
- Swamped in Gore (1991)
- Demo 1993
- Hobo Stew (1993) - EP
- The Bowels of Repugnance (1993)
- Repulsive Conception (1995)
- Loathing (1997)
- Grotesque Blessings (1999)
- Omen of Disease (2013)
- Mutilated & Assimilated (2017)
This band contains examples of the following tropes:
- Badass Beard: Damian Leski and Mike Miczek.
- Body Horror: Probably Wagner's most frequent lyrical theme, and one he's all too happy to describe in detail.
- Cover Version: "Captain Howdy". In turn, Dying Fetus has covered "Gorehog".
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Lots and lots of examples show up in their lyrics, though "Freezer Burnt" takes the cake for showing a very in-depth and detailed description of what it's like to freeze to death.
- Death Metal
- Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: "He Was Raped," which is about Jesus Christ being raped by Roman soldiers.
- Filk Song: "Predacious Poltergeist" and "Mutilated and Assimilated".
- Full-Boar Action: "Gorehog".
- Gaia's Lament: "The Meek Shall Inherit Shit".
- Genre Shift: Loathing featured more technical musicianship, and Grotesque Blessings continued the trend. The band went back to their classic sound for Omen of Disease, and Mutilated & Assimilated brought back some of the technicality of Loathing.
- Gorn: Most of their lyrics, with few exceptions, feature graphic descriptions of gore.
- I Am the Band: Jeremy Wagner
- I Love the Dead: Occasionally shows up, with "Reunited" being a particularly disgusting example.
- I'm a Humanitarian: "Hobo Stew," among other songs.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Joe Ptacek was fairly well-known for this, but you could at least figure them out fairly easily with a lyric sheet. With Leski, they're very difficult to figure out even with one because of his exceptionally gurgly style.
- Jerkass: Ryan Stanek. Wagner and co. evidently were NOT amused when they found out about what had been going on with the merch.
- Lead Bassist: Diego Soria is a Type A. Jeremy Wagner even stated that he is one of the single best bassists that he has ever seen or played with, and he was apparently the first guy that Damian Leski had on his mind when Shaun Glass left.
- Metal Scream: Type 2 for both Ptacek and Leski; Ptacek, in particular, has one of the best claims to the title of the originator of true gutturals along with Frank Mullen, Chris Barnes, Glen Benton, and Craig Pillard (Incantation), and along with Mullen and Pillard, he was certainly among the cleanest and trimmed off the rough edges that Barnes and Benton had.
- Misanthrope Supreme: "Carnage Genesis", with a side of Unstoppable Rage.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: A solid 10 throughout their discography, with Grotesque Blessings being a softer 10.
- New Sound Album: Loathing was a Genre Shift to progressive death metal, with lots of unusual time signatures, odd riff structures, melodic overtones, and highly complex leadwork all showing up.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies in "The Docking Dead" are pretty standard shambling brain-eaters, but they originated from attempts to reanimate cadaver foreskins.
- Pedophile Priest: "Priest of Sodomy"
- The Perfectionist: According to Duane Timlin, Brian Griffin was "[one of] the most anal guys on the planet" when it came to making sure that everything fell into place.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Jeremy Wagner and Diego Soria.
- Progressive Death Metal: Loathing. Grotesque Blessings was more of a straight tech album.
- Revolving Door Band: After a couple early lineup shifts, they stayed pretty stable for a while. Once Stanek got kicked out in 1997, the shit hit the fan. This was actually one of the reasons that they broke up in the first place, as the constantly-shifting roster had contributed a great deal to band dysfunction.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Jeremy Wagner has quite a way with words; given that he's a published writer, this is kind of to be expected.
- The Soulless: "The Dead Half", where having your soul removed evidently causes your body to rot alive.
- Special Guest: James Murphy contributed a guest solo to "Engorged with Impiety", while Trevor Strnad contributed vocals to "Rendered into Lard".
- Start My Own: Shaun Glass did this with SOiL, though it was originally supposed to be a side project until the band became too big to stay part-time. He would go on to do this again with Dirge Within, which later turned into The Bloodline before reverting back to Dirge Within.
- Threatening Shark: "Blood Gullet".
- Ur-Example: While they have occasionally been called this for slam, the appropriateness of such a label is extremely debatable. That being said, their early works had an extremely raw, stripped-down approach with guttural lows, a heavy emphasis on mid-paced grooves, and songwriting that was apathetic towards melody at best, and it was that combination that made them a major influence on a lot of early brutal death and slam acts (particularly ones from the Midwest, Texas, and New England), and bands like Dying Fetus, Devourment, Goratory, and Gorgasm (as well as Slipknot, who openly referred to them as a major collective influence on their early material) all cited them as instrumental in the development of their own sound.
- Walking Wasteland: "Internal Inferno" and "Omen of Disease".