Oct 9, 2012
Hangman's Chair - "Hope///Dope///Rope" ...
'Hope//Dope//Rope' is their third full length album, their heaviest to date but also their most atmospheric and most mournful. The band are pure doom but they also dabble in psychedelia and a kind of doom blues and you will hear a lot of it on this new album.
What is perhaps the bands strong-suit is they don't get hooked in any one direction for too long. They will switch gears from doomy plod to mid-tempo stoner grooves to melodic grunge in the vein of Alice In Chains but this is just scratching the surface.
This album has 7 great songs that certainly pack in a lot in their running times hence they need the 6 to 11 minute songs just to squeeze in all the ideas that this band seem to have ample supply of these days.
'The Saddest Call' opens the album with a sample of school kids chanting and I don't know why but I find the sound of kids yelling, chanting or just generally making a lot of noise.....somewhat unconfortable and unsettling. This is therefore a perfect mood enhancer for the opening of a doom metal album. The sample that starts the album has a suicidal element about it but the riffing that follows throws a range of different musical textures into the doom metal melting pot. One part Iommi, one part Wino and Windstein the guitar approach is not one-dimensional but rather a mish-mash of approaches that come together creating a powerfully crushing but very infectious sound. The track is equal parts grooves and downright drunken doom as it delivers hooks, both in the vocal and the guitar department. Vocalist Cedric Toufouti has a charismatic voice, perfect for melodic doom but it is also menacing and emotive when it needs to be. They seem to be using more than just one effect on the vocals on the album but it doesn't distract from what a fine voice he has.
The first track bleeds right into the second 'Open Veins' and as the title might suggest, it is a bleak piece. The song about drug addiction again blends a range of styles from hardcore to grunge to stoner rock to a doom metal blend that few bands manage to create. The start-stop arrangement keeps the listener guessing to where the song will go next but it is the instrumental jammy section that is truly the icing on what is a spectacular track. 'Ain't Living Long Like That' comes next, pushing the album into even more murky waters. Sinister and wallowing in a psychedelic meets doom blend, this track is another flawless track that features some catchy as hell chugging riff work. The songs on this album are long or longish but they are so infectious so you never notice the extended playing times. 'December' is the odd track out in many ways and it is also the shortest tune that this riff-fest has on tap. The song leans on southern blues and doom balladry, sounding like something that Down might come up with. There are blues guitar, acoustics, emotive vocals but it seems the albums most "ordinary" moment, not bad at all but rather ordinary given the quality of the rest of the album.
Moving into the second half of the album and it just gets ridiculously good with a hat-trick of epic songs, each of them majestic and captivating. 'A Scar To Remember' is a pummeling, pulverizing tour de-force that doesn't do anything you haven't already heard on the album but it still kills just the same. Without a doubt one of the albums most intense doom-driven songs, it is almost 9 minutes of some of the most menacing crossover doom you will hear this year. This is followed by 'Alley's End' which packs in stoner grooves, sabbathian doom riffs, psychedelic breaks, southern rock and even vocal crooning. The track becomes more "jammy" as it progresses with its final section sounding slightly off the cuff. This leads into the album highlight for me personally, the almost 11 minute wonder that is the title track 'Hope///Dope///Rope.' I love bands that always managed to pull that bit more out of the water when it is least expected and that is the story here.
After a spoken word introduction that is basically Mother Nature saying she has had enough of the human race, this gorgeous and melancholic jam is hypnotic right down to its dying seconds and is a perfect showcase for the bands musical skills. It all comes to a close all too soon, bringing the curtain down on what is an amazing album that goes far beyond expectations. Hangman's Chair have always been good but this brings the band up to a whole other level of brilliance.....9.5/10.
Tags: Hangman's Chair