So Hideous – Laurestine (Prosthetic)

Sunday, 11th October 2015
Rating: 9/10

So Hideous made quite a mark with their debut full-length, Last Poem/First Light, back in 2013. A number of staffers were quite fond of the album, and we weren’t the only ones, as the band landed a deal with Prosthetic a short time later (who re-issued said album last year). Laurestine, their Prosthetic debut, is an ambitious release in many regards, but one that will most likely be showered with praise as we reach the end of the year.

Laurestine is a concept album about the seven minutes for which the brain is active after death. Without giving too much away, the material is rich and interesting fodder for the band to elegantly display (there’s a lot of “7’s” in the album’s context/meaning for those who wish to invest some time and effort). The way that So Hideous writes their material stands in stark contrast with many like-minded bands that use orchestration. Most metal bands write out the “metal parts” and then insert orchestration, but So Hideous begins with the orchestra and weaves the rest around it and the results are often spine-chilling. The band’s thirty-piece orchestra (The First Light Orchestra) has a healthy interplay with the band, giving the album a real, soundtrack-worthy approach and really allowing the highs/lows to emotionally resonate. One of the album’s highlights, “Relinquish,” opens softly and takes almost half the track to reach its sonic heights. But the payoff is what hits the hardest – once the orchestra and guitars/drums/vocals/bass mesh, it’s a beautiful thing. Ultimately, that’s what Laurestine is – utterly beautiful. Strange to say for a metal album, but it definitely fits here.

It is hard to focus on individual tracks when Laurestine is actually one song broken up into 7 pieces. This is an album that is meant to be soaked up in one sitting, preferably with your full attention as to let the album take you on a bit of a journey. There are some glorious moments in these tracks though, like the afore-mentioned “Relinquish,” as well as the triumphant yet melancholic stride of “The True Pierce” or the emotionally-draining closer “A Faint Whisper” (should have expected nothing less after the zinger that was “Glory” on Last Poem/First Light).

No sophomore slump in sight for So Hideous. If anything, they’ve realized the potential that Last Poem/First Light had and really pushed the boundaries of their sound. Laurestine is nothing less than captivating from start to finish, and an exemplar of what can be done with a properly executed orchestra in the metal format.

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