There are existential benefits when you take your time in creating an album. Dissonants, the third album from Australian post-hardcore band Hands Like Houses met some delays in the overall recording process. Releasing three solid albums in a band’s career should be considered a great feat as HLH continually finds themselves fighting for elbow room among a genre that can get a little crowded. The overall meaning of the word dissonant is to lack in harmony or to be irregular. I find this to be fitting in the new album that keeps the core of what the band starts, but also adds teeth. Dissonants sets out to simplify what needed fine tuning in previous albums and interjects a little aggression.
In listening to this album, you will find where there is sound, there is fury for the most part. A considerable chunk of the album can be described as lightning in a bottle that lost its lid. There are definitely lyrical and instrumental elements that keep things together, but in many of the songs, there are breakdown clashes that enable a harder edge. This is a congruent theme throughout Dissonants. The first track, “I Am,” is an outright bludgeoning of guitars and percussion. If you frame this against “Antarctica,” the band’s opener from their 2012 album, Ground Dweller and hear how confident they have become to be louder out of the starting blocks.
Lyrically, there’s a constant theme throughout the album as for one to discover within self and outer threats – perhaps with political undertones. Within the first three songs, vocalist Trenton Woodley gives an outer critique in “I Am”: “I’m tired / I’m sick of misfit beggars / with able tongues and easy outs” to the giving up of reasoning in “Perspectives”: “All my life / I tried letting you inside / See the world through my eyes / and all I see (is time wasted).” The inner streams of consciousness, albeit darker at points within this album are both honest and something anyone can relate to.
Throughout the considerable twists and turns where the views change on society and self, the last track, “Bloodlines” is the grandiose conclusion. The song, complete with gang vocals and driving percussion from drummer Matt Parkitny is not only a realization of how much control Woodley has over himself, but heeds as a lesson to the listener as well. In listening to HLH material through the years, I appreciate that the lyrics are both concise, but intelligent as they tell their story. These songs seem to build on the themes of cognitive discord and little things like Woodley’s use of harsher vocals accent those points further.
Guitarists Matt Cooper and Alex Pearson took the gloves off a bit in some of their hardest riffs yet are active in these songs. However, the electronic programming and harder guitars meet at an apex in tracks such as “Glasshouse” and “Motion Sickness”. Both are two opposites of the spectrum, one a little bit more up tempo and the other as a ballad. While the album maybe heavier on the action side, it does still shows considerable growth as the tracks get slower.
Where 2013’s Unimagine may have slightly missed the mark, Dissonants jumps a little higher and hits it. You can hear the considerable time and effort that when into making an album in a genre where bands are either repeating the same thing or trying to stretch so far out of their comfort zone, it’s sonically unnatural. Dissonants take a strong collections of songs that will propel this band further into a forefront of the post-hardcore genre.
Pickup Dissonants now on I Tunes.
Post Harcore | Rise Records