So Hideous - None But A Pure Heart Can Sing

22 Jan 2022 - Thorsten

Avantgarde Metal | Silent Pendulum Records | Release date: 03 Dec 2021 | Favorite song: Motorik Visage

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Writing a review about the latest record by New York-based Avantgarde-metal outfit So Hideous is, on the one side, really difficult – because there is so much to talk about. Writing a review about None But A Pure Heart Can Sing by New Yorkers So Hideous is, on the other side, pretty easy – because there is so much to talk about. It should be clear that this is a record to talk about!

However, please don’t expect to get an in-depth musical-theory based description of each of the five tracks, because then this review would need to be approximately 2,000 words – no I will try to describe some of the elements that struck and moved me. Each of the tracks is wonderfully arranged and offers many little intricate elements that could be mentioned – from the very first moments which sound like an orchestra going through the very last moments before the concert, fine-tuning their instruments and getting into the groove and in-sync, to the very elegic lament of the final string seconds ending the record in a melancholic lament.

The band founded by guitar hero Brandon Cruz with the intention of combining Morricone, jazz and black metal gives us all of this and much more and the later also because of their new drummer Michael Kadnar, whom some of you might know as the drummer for The Number Twelve Looks Like You or Downfall of Gaia. His highly variable drumming shines through on basically every song, but it’s most obvious on the opening track ”Souvenir (Echo)”, when his rim-kicks is so fine and striking that it’s placed at the very front of the mix because the shuffling is much jazzier and yet also somewhat mathy. Then again, the track is also dominated by Christopher Cruz’ vocals which are so much hardcore that one might forget the orchestral beginning – also because it is immediately erased from memory once the track erupts.

The flurry guitar work is nothing new on records by So Hideous as is the saxophone work (here by Lynn Ligammari) – both deliver performances from other realms. However, one must admit that sometimes the combination of noisy free jazz attacks, screamo vocals, harsh riffing, swirling post-rock tremolos and so much more can be more than overwhelming and many people will lack a sense of orientation in the soundscapes. They should be re-assured that the record grows with every spin and simultaneously becomes clearer and clearer.

”Intermezzo (3)”, the near-five-minute interlude does a wonderful jobs of slowing everything down and ending in wonderfully elegant indie-rock. Being known for crude comparisons – listen to this track and compare it to Declan De Barra’s ”Apple Tree”! No intentional connection there but soundwise the latter could be a sequel to ”Intermezzo (3)”.

”Motorik Visage” is a wonderful combination of all the aforementioned elements. Nonetheless, it sounds as if the band not only incorporates the ideas of Morricone’s classic Spaghetti-western soundtracks into this monster of a track (length: 11:12 minutes!!) but also some sounds that remind me of Russian balalaikas and Jewish Klezmer music. Maybe that is not such a surprise as So Hideous are from Brooklyn and that borough has strong Jewish and Russian communities. Maybe, subconsciously, that is the source of some of these sounds in this midtempo monster.

So Hideous might have become a bit so clean and for fans of the earlier records there might be a lack of some dirt and surprise, nevertheless, one should be able to admit that the band is still several levels above those that tried to follow in their footsteps. These are still too big and too difficult to fill because the quintet (with the help of their friends in The First Light Orchestra) give us a record that is wonderfully produced, brilliantly structured and a real treat for anybody who loves blackened post-hardcore and orchestral music. Listen to this record and you will have so much to say. Maybe too much to say.