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Metal-leaning hardcore unit If Hope Dies got together in the summer of 1998 around vocalist Alan French, guitarists Thad Jackson and Aaron Conti, bassist Gary Mann (aka Gary Manowar), and drummer Brandon Wakeham. Based out of Auburn, NY, the guys took influence from local heroes Manowar and played around for a few years before issuing their debut album, Siege Equipment for Spiritual Decline, through Diehard Records in December 2002. Conti exited following the record's release, and was replaced on guitar by Fred Cardinal. If Hope Dies continued honing their sound and live show with spots on several years of Syracuse's Hellfest, and by sharing gigs with bands like In Flames, Lamb of God, and Soilwork. They signed to Ironclad Recordings in the spring of 2003, and a year later The Ground Is Rushing Up to Meet Us was released with distribution through Metal Blade. Cardinal then took his leave; Tim Seib filled his shoes for a year or so before guitarist Brian Ward joined on permanently. Life in Ruin followed in March 2006, but the quintet's lineup didn't stay stable for long. Jackson departed that spring, and Naren Ananda entered by August. But it all didn't really matter since by the year's end, If Hope Dies had gone on hiatus.