Albums That Will #$@&%*! Your Face Off in 2018: Hands of Despair, Well of the Disquieted
It’s a new year, and you know what that means — it’s time for MetalSucks’ eighth annual new year preview, Albums That Will #$@&%*! Your Face Off! As with previous years, we won’t be spotlighting all the great releases coming out this year, but, rather, concentrating on lesser-known bands whose new releases might otherwise escape your attention. Look for these posts by assorted MetalSucks staffers throughout the week. We hope you enjoy ‘em!
Hands of Despair
Well of the Disquieted (Deathbound Records)
Hands of Despair’s 2011 debut, Hereafter, was a masterful statement of intent (and largely a solo effort) by songwriter/guitarist Maxime Côté. After its release, and in preparation for the new musical ideas already forming, Côté spent the next few years gathering likeminded musicians into a cohesive band. His success in that endeavor, and the collaboration that ensued, yielded 2016’s sophomore album Bereft, which, for me, was a clear contender for the year’s best album. It remains a set of songs I return to frequently.
The Montreal prog/death/black metal quintet are poised to release the next chapter of their story through Deathbound Records this April. The album is called Well of the Disquieted, and according to Deathbound’s owner, it “spans eighty minutes over the course of six songs. It will be a concept piece based on the struggles of mental illness, with each song representing a different variation on the theme, including ‘La Balade des Gens Heureux,’ based on Virginia Wolff.” If you think that sounds indulgent and overwrought, I’m sure Anal Trump has another 53-second full-length on the way, too. Just remember that Hands of Despair has ruled for over 117 minutes already, with albums that included quarter-hour odysseys that easily justified such lengths with soaring narratives, vibrant performances and sinewy movements interlocked and blended expertly into one another.
But don’t take my word for it, or LeVar Burton’s: Guest vocalists include Gorguts’ own Luc Lemay (as well as Marie-Helene Landry, Sébastien Croteau and Vena Kava), so the band has clearly attracted the talents of an undisputed king of prog-death and niceness. In a musical landscape so often glutted with unimaginative aggressors and toothless show-offs, Hands of Despair have struck the perfect balance between catharsis and composition.
A friend recently opined that it would be nice to get just one more “growly” record out of Opeth. My response: Let Hands of Despair give you those goosebumps all over again, in a whole new way.