Review Summary: "Laurestine" is almost completely engineered to be swept up in, and So Hideous pull this effort off with dramatic effect.
For those of you who were waiting for a post-rock record to come along with that same sense of wonder and excitement as the first time you heard the genre, this might just be it. Even with its aggression, So Hideous have managed to create something all too easy to lose yourself in even for those convinced they've heard all this genre has to offer.
Artists like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mono, who almost entirely base their sound on the idea of cinematic grandness, are quite plentiful - requiring patience to fully comprehend the massive scope of their music. They bear mentioning, however, simply due to the contrast between them and newcomer band So Hideous, who utilize that scope in a very different and more immediate way. Rather than the patience and tension-building that post-rock bands often revel in, So Hideous by comparison cut right to the chase - stringing together these massive, soul-stirring moments one after another. This isn't the kind of post-rock album to reward patience, rather, its a tried-and-true sound constructed solely to compel. In this goal it triumphs almost astonishingly.
The orchestration here is quite stunning and is easily the record's significant trump card. The record's reliance on its orchestra cannot be understated as it's the crux of this album's entire sense of melody, rendering it in many ways incomparable to other bands in the post-metal umbrella. The textures and cinematic scope of Mono mixed with the structural immediacy of post-rock bands like Maybeshewill is entwined rather masterfully with a far more aggressive tone. Indeed, Laurestine
doesn't shy away from the intense (if perhaps buried) roaring vocals and even blastbeats from time to time. So Hideous pull this off gracefully, even if they do almost nothing to meaningfully break out of post-rock tropes. It may not quite have the depth of payoff of the aforementioned bands but it's easy to see how Laurestine
can be so easily swept up in.
You may think the vocals set it apart at least in some way but this isn't really the case. In fact, it's almost as if the record could have been entirely instrumental without missing out on anything. They're so buried and samey that they sound like little more than a texture in the mix. This is fine, however - be it a huge string section or a massive tremolo-picked wall of guitar, there's always something beneath it all to make any given moment a memorable one. The album feels like one massive soul-stirring climax strung between short lulls and though many feel like the last, it doesn't affect its poignancy.
Some are more memorable than others - "The Keepsake" perhaps being the highlight track due to the immediacy being used to greater effect, the climax revelling in the sense of powerful melancholy that this album frequently utilizes, and cleverly placed right in the center of the album to keep the interest flowing. It's true that the other tracks aren't unlike this one, but it proves how pivotal the balance between the building of tension and delivery can be in music like this. For the most part they nail it each time, but it's the few dips that can stop the immersion that's so important in a record like this one.
spends more time building but not quite enough time reaching satisfying climaxes. What's worse is that the drums, perhaps one of the weaker points of this recording, sound very one-dimensional and don't do much to build tension due to feeling so repetitive. There are a few moments in this album that wander into a needlessly long lull - the track "Here After" feeling twice its length due to feeling like it goes nowhere; only to then be followed up by a large introduction on the following track, "Relinquish". Thankfully the latter half of this track picks the pace back up to where it needs to be but the path to get there was rather needless.
These pitfalls, however, do not dampen the overall experience in any significant way, and it's still all too easy to get caught up in the excitement this record admirably conjures. So Hideous' ambition is commendable and the results have almost entirely paid off in spades. It's easy to see how this album could have been improved by tighter structuring and perhaps a better mix, but the way this record triumphs is undeniable. It almost flies by without a hitch, and though it doesn't take the listener on a sense of 'journey' like a band such as... say, Mono would, the fleeting nature of the music serves to make it more striking. Laurestine
is almost completely engineered to be swept up in, and So Hideous pull this effort off with dramatic effect.