So Hideous – Goodbye My LoveWednesday, 18th December 2013
So Hideous’ unique brand of post-black orchestral chaos, or as described by guitarist/keyboardist Brandon Cruz himself, “[the sound of] an intense man yelling during a symphony run through tube amps with the gain turned all the way up”, has been rightfully gaining momentum and popularity as of late.
So Hideous originally formed in 2007, when Cruz was “making orchestral/ambient drone/post rock and wanted to incorporate throaty vocals into it.” The band then released their first EP, I Balance A Daydream On the Edge of a Knife in 2009 and followed up with the To Clasp A Fallen Wish With Broken Fingers EP in 2011.
Originally known as So Hideous…My Love, following the release of To Clasp, …My Love disappeared from the band’s title. According to Cruz, “The production company that released the film of the same name [a documentary about Dario Argento] threatened to sue us.” Left with no other option, the band carried on as So Hideous, leading us up to their most current output and first full-length, Last Poem/First Light. An album, that when compared to it’s predecessor, succeeds in making “the music ‘bigger’ and more expansive. Both “I Balance A Daydream…” and “To Clasp” had very different line ups. Now we are getting much closer to the desired sound.”
One song in particular on Last Poem/First Light that certainly feels big is the closing “Glory.” An emotionally draining closer from an album soaked in sentiment elevates the choral aspect of the band’s sound to its highest point. Cruz states that “Glory” was “always going to be the closer and have the largest choral involvement. Big finish. We hoped it could be cathartic and hymn like.” In regards to the other tracks, there are a number of contrasts that come into play throughout. Rawness and beauty, Abrasion and melancholy, Cruz says that the juggling act of balancing all these varied emotions comes from a feeling of not wanting “to fall into that “post_____” trap of repeating the same few progressions and simply alter the dynamics for 15 minutes at a time but rather to have organic changes in the tempo, voicing and color of the piece.” Cruz also mentions “We don’t really cherry pick or ascribe how much of a percentage of influence we take from where. We just utilize the elements of music we think will help us make noise we like.”
In regards to the ever-emerging “post-black” scene, being spearheaded by bands like Deafheaven, Cruz was asked his thoughts on why black metal, such a seemingly raw and harsh form, has been the starting point for such a plethora of different sounds. “I can’t really speak for any other bands on this. As for So Hideous…we’ve been at this for a while now and only recently have people come on board. Either way, I don’t really consider So Hideous… as part of any specific movement post black or otherwise. Some reviewers still classify us as screamo. We only care to make the music we want and let everyone else deal with scenes and genres.”
While To Clasp saw a release through Play The Assassin, the band went the independent route for Last Poem/First Light. “We simply wanted control of our product” Cruz says, though he adds, “the band will gladly work with labels going forward under the right circumstances.”
Again speaking to the grandeur of the songs on Last Poem/First Light, the band utilized The First Light Orchestra, a 10-person string section. With the band hitting the road to perform in the live venue, Cruz was asked how not having the orchestra affects the band’s sound. “In a live setting we perform the material the exact same way, albeit stripped down, as a four piece. When we recorded the album we made sure the orchestrations fortified the tracks, not superseded them. As we record more and experiment this may change but for now there aren’t any violin solos we have to worry about replicating.”
So following the success of the recently released Last Poem/First Light, what’s next for So Hideous? Cruz concludes “In 2014 we will be releasing Last Poem/First Light on both vinyl and cassette while we tour, write and hopefully record the next album. We really look forward to sharing our new material and merchandise at the shows!” So get those record players and walkmans ready, Last Poem/First Light is a release every one should check out on the format of their choosing.