2013 has been a year of many great albums, but while most of those were from bands who had already proven themselves in the fires of judgment, this NYC quartet had not. Two years after the release of their warm received EP “To Clasp A Fallen Wish With Broken Fingers” the band is back with their debut full length album. Did the album manage to deliver the high expectations that were placed upon it? The short answer is yes. For the long answer, keep on reading.
“Arise, embers of a moment”
For those unfamiliar with So Hideous, it’s a NYC quartet Black Metal band who released two EP’s so far in their career. ‘I Balance Daydreams On The Tip Of A Knife’ back in 2010 and ‘To Clasp a Fallen Wish With Broken Fingers’ in 2011 under the name of “So Hideous, My Love…” After having to change this name to So Hideous (duo to legal reasons) and now with added support from a fifteen-piece strings-and-throats ensemble called The First Light Orchestra the band is ready to release their debut album.
The band plays an original blend of Black Metal, Shoegaze, Post-Rock, Hardcore and Classical music. This strange concoction was handled with extensive care and got dressed up with an amazing amount of passion and melancholy to create a sound which is sounds highly original, well-structured and above all cohesive. Allusions to a more intense Deafheaven, backed-up by an orchestra are easily made. But saying so would deny the band the spotlight they so wholeheartedly deserve.
The album is a hurricane of Post-Black Metal glossed over with Shoegaze and brimming with passion and melancholy. Massive walls of bombarding drums, intense Envy-inspired guitar riffing and incredibly passionate vocals are thrown upon the listener in every song. Yet in all this violence, one finds beauty and love oozing out of every corner. Taking notes from romantic and sacral music, in both lyrics and song-writing aspects further enhance this experience.
“burning fields shimmer , this bitter snow falls softly “
So Hideous is not a band with many faces, but rather a band with a single face which has dozens of expressions. Every song is incredibly different, yet they all unmistakably belong to the same grand structure. The straight up Black Metal from ‘Rising’ shares few similarities to the orchestral grandeur from ‘Glory’, yet they are undeniably from the same band and album.
‘Last Poem/First Light’ is the band at their grandest, sprawling epic crescendo’s of a quality the band could have only dreamed of before. The rough production from the EP’s has been switched a crystal clear, even pristine quality, A decision the album benefits from greatly.
The album is always intense, emotional and passionate. But without a doubt the keystone of this all is vocalist Christopher Cruz. His vocals make the hair at the back of your neck stand up, his lyrics contain enough melancholy to make even Shakespeare cry and the amount of emotions he places into his vocals coupled with the conviction which they are delivered is rarely seen and even fewer times matched.
The collaboration with The First Light Orchestra is flawless, it sounds organic and lush, without ever becoming tiresome or overpowering. One would think they have a history together as everything sounds natural and tailored fit between the both factions. The added pressure this collaboration brought can be put to rest, as nothing bad can be said about it.
“a two way mirror , each utter into the past”
Yet, in this realm of beauty not everything is as perfect as it could have been. Hearing a song one at a time can make this album look like a polished gem, yet once one listens to the album in its entirety its clear it’s still a little too rough around to edges for its own sake. The transition between the songs is anything but smooth in most cases. A problem that has no justifiably reason to be here, because neither of the EP’s suffered from this problem. So why does this album do so? It’s a missed opportunity and sadly becomes the biggest flaw of ‘Last poem/First Light’.
A second issue might be a more personal one, but this album seemed to have brought a decrease to the Post-Rock aspect of the band’s sound. This album contains no new songs in the vein of “Prelude in G# Minor”. Which is sad, because this could have had the album soaring at even greater heights than it already does and could have empowered the emotional aspects even more.
“born from a wish”
So hideous delivered a splendid debut album with ‘Last Poem/First Light’, one that stands head and shoulders next to their EP’s and gave their fans everything they wanted for, disappointment is not a worth coming up while listening to this. It’s a breath of fresh air to the genre because of the theatrical approach they took. Yet, it might be a little too rough around the edges for its own good and with its 30 minute run time it’s a tad short. But despite these short coming So Hideous delivered everything their fans could have hoped for.
“the shores of eternity wonder“
The album is available on their website! Here’s the link:
Written by: Simon Bogaerts – October 31st, 2013