Hangman’s Chair are from Crosne, a small hamlet near Paris, France. It’s not exactly known for its gloomy climate. The band though, have been producing their own brand of somewhat glum music since 2005 and with their new release, A Loner, that hasn’t changed and nor would I want then to when the music is this good.
The album involves a lot of space, giving the chords plenty of room to breathe and drone a little, as any self-respecting doom band should, but the band brings in other influences to shorten the length of their songs, compared to other bands in the genre, anyway, with only the last track on the album going over 7 minutes and it isn’t by that much either.
The record starts with ”An Ode To Breakdown” which is neither frenetic or has any breakdowns. The track suggests the band may be leading things slowly down to the said breakdown, but that is exactly what they do, with open picked chords and rhythmic drumming that progress in some open riffing before the melodic vocals kick in around the 3 minute mark. The music continues in a hypnotic manner before slowing things down further, to close with a chord left hanging in the air, leaving the listener waiting for more.
Thankfully, it’s only the first of nine tracks and they pick right back up with the next song, ”Cold & Distant”, which continues the albums so far established sound. ”Who Wants To Die Old” opens with a heavily reverberated bass riff and vocals that are nowhere near the forefront of the mix, which makes you give the songs the attention they truly deserve. The album continues on in a similar vein, never really moving faster than a glacial pace, with the final song, ”A Thousand Miles” wrapping things up perfectly with the least amount of vocals on any of the tracks but the spaced-out music more than making up for it.
The vocals are used to good effect throughout the album, giving the instrumentation a chance to, not show off exactly, it’s not that kind of album, but to invite the listener in with an unexpected warmth. If there were to be an idea of what the bands sound is, it would be like the much missed and often misunderstood, gloom masters, Type O Negative crossed with the odd men out, the Deftones, in particular, their mid 2000s period, where they started to move towards a much less aggressive sound. While the cross of these two bands sounds like it would and indeed should be awful, Hangman’s Chair have hit the motherlode with A Loner and it is much better than the sum of its parts ever should be.
If you want to listen to something to wallow to, reflect with or just exist next to, I cannot recommend this album highly enough.