Granted, I do not listen to that much hardcore anymore but I think I would if more hardcore bands sounded like Jena Berlin. The band’s 2005 debut, Passion Waits As The Program Keeps Going, was an outstanding melodic hardcore album. Unfortunately, the album flew below the radar of many. With a new label and a new album, Jena Berlin hope to create the momentum that their debut so deserved. Quo Vadimus continues the band’s powerful musical assault.
Quo Vadimus lacks the range of its predecessor, but for a hardcore band Jena Berlin still show a diversity that allows them to rise above many of their peers. While the band’s sound has been streamlined here, their passion certainly has not been. Jena Berlin’s focal point for me still remains the powerful lead vocals of Jon Louden. The guy really does have that special trait that guides the band’s strong melodic songwriting. In many ways the band still reminds me most of the great Bear Vs. Shark. Much like Bear Vs. Shark, Jena Berlin never seem constricted by occupying space within the hardcore genre. The band creates a rich depth to their melodic hardcore with the addition of horns and piano on several songs. That variation in the band’s songwriting is what makes them so memorable. And while Quo Vadimus does feel more cohesive, it also lacks a bit of that initial appeal of the dynamic Passion Waits As The Program Keeps Going.
When Jena Berlin exercise the range in their song-writing that they are capable of it sounds remarkable and goes down as the band’s unique calling card. Quo Vadimus does not always offer that. It may not be the album I was hoping for after being so impressed with Jena Berlin’s debut. However, Quo Vadimus is a worthy follow up that certainly avoids any kind of sophomore slump. Bands like Jena Berlin are keeping people like me interested in hardcore. So, hopefully, Quo Vadimus just sees the band transitioning to something beyond all expectations.