"Hope Springs Eternal" is the first demo by Danish death metal act Autumn Leaves. The demo was independently releasedon cassette tape in 1995 and ended up selling more than 1000 copies. Autumn Leaves were active from 1993 to 2001 and released this demo and two full-length studio albums in that period. When the band split-up, some of the members went on to form Scavenger, which later changed their name to The Arcane Order.
Autumn Leaves are mostly known as a melodic death metal act, but on "Hope Springs Eternal" they play a slightly more raw death metal style although it´s still fairly melodic. While Autumn Leaves don´t exactly sound like (early) Necrophobic, I will still make the reference, because of the aggressive growling vocals and raw yet melodic way of playing death metal. Autumn Leaves are not as demonic and old school sounding as Necrophobic though and the music on "Hope Springs Eternal" features some groove laden parts, that would never have found their way into the Swede´s material.
"Hope Springs Eternal" features 4 tracks and a full playing time of 17:55 minutes. The first three tracks on the demo are mid- to fast paced melodic tinged death metal tracks, but on the closing track "Weakening Trips" the band introduce a melodic doom/death sound that wasn´t necessarily in the cards after listening to the opening trio of tracks. It´s still the sound of the same band playing though and it´s pretty great for the variation that Autumn Leaves are also able to pull off playing that style in the context of their musical soundscape.
The material are generally of a high quality and it´s certainly not obvious that this is a debut demo. The same can be said about the sound production, which is very close to sounding like a professional studio production. Raw and powerful sounding, yet clear enough to hear every instrument and vocal track in the mix. The musicanship is also on a high level, and all in all "Hope Springs Eternal" is a very convincing first release by Autumn Leaves. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.