So Hideous are the definition of a dichotomy. It start with their name because they are anything BUT hideous. They take the majestic beauty of sweeping orchestration and marry it to some heavy post metal, complete with screaming death vocals. Such beauty and such brutality. The perfect dichotomy.
Now I am sure those of you who haven’t heard So Hideous’ debut album “Last Poem/First Light” are thinking, “how could this possibly work?” It does more than just “work.” Their new album “Laurestine” takes each component and maximizes each. The majesty of the band’s First Light Orchestra (a 30 piece orchestra), who are responsible for all of the brass, strings and even a choir, are even more prevalent. The band’s brutal assault seems to rest comfortably atop this bed of symphonic elegance.
The debut “YesterYear” gives equal time to each side of the band while the instrumental second track “Hereafter” allows the orchestra even more space to move. It has a tribal beat that pounds as strings glide along soothingly. Four minutes in, the song calmly switches to a beautiful piano solo. No onslaught at all on the track, which really works. So Hideous have employed some restraint which is very impressive.
“Relinquish” is a slow builder which pairs guitars with strings for such a beautiful introduction. It grows and grows until midway when the band and orchestra are in full force. At that point, the wall of sound is massive! “The Keepsake” is equal to the task being just as big…until it calms down half way through. The push and pull between heavy and soft, band and orchestra, just adds to the dramatic tension throughout “Laurestine.”
I also like that the orchestra seems to swallow the band at times. Not completely but it shows you just how powerful an orchestra is, to be toe to toe with a metal band. “Falling Cedars” has an intro that really shows that power. Eventually, the orchestra lets the band up. The album as a whole is very much a showcase of ALL of the players.
Let’s give some credit to the band as without them, this would be like a movie soundtrack. Vocalist (and bassist) Chris Cruz always sounds like he is ready to blow a blood vessel, yet he is mixed perfectly next to all of the music. A prime example of his talents comes on “The True Pierce.” Finally, “A Faint Whisper” closes out “Laurestine” with some bombast (which in fairness the whole album has!) and feels like the perfect dramatic closer. Incredible.
The album is a concept album, oh by the way! It is based on the idea that the human mind is active for seven minutes following death. There are seven tracks on the album. It is even written in 7/4 and 7/8 time signatures! For those that think post metal isn’t prog, you need to listen to “Laurestine” by So Hideous. So Hideous have make the musical score to the last moments of death into a full on metal masterpiece.
4. The Keepsake
5. Falling Cedars
6. The True Pierce
7. A Faint Whisper
Label: Prosthetic Records