Ok so, it’s becoming quite clear that Australia are truly cementing their name in the music industry
as a producer of brilliant rock and metal bands, with brilliant new music in 2015 from Parkway Drive,
Northlane, In Hearts Wake and the Amity Affliction to name a few. With chart topping releases at
home for these growing heroes, it’s only natural that they start to break into charts across the other
side of the world in Europe, and marginally closer to home in the US. The latest band to release new
music and start to force their way to the spotlight are Hands Like Houses. After the release of a
stunning album in 2013, ‘Unimagine’, the band have returned this year with ‘Dissonants’.
I was lucky enough to see Hands Like Houses supporting Bury Tomorrow back in 2014, and it struck me then
that they could produce stunning stage shows and flawless live performances, and listening through
Dissonants for about the 40th time as I sit down to write this review is making the hairs stand up on
the back of my neck in anticipation for seeing them in May on their rescheduled tour.
Now obviously, some fans may be confused that we’re writing this review now when the album was
scheduled for release in October last year – however, we’re not just really behind! Due to some
delays within the album process, Dissonants was pushed back to a 26th February release, although
we’ve been tantalised with three stunning singles in the meantime – I Am, New Romantics and
Colourblind – just to keep us hooked and desperately waiting. Their plan succeeded. The first in that
list, ‘I Am’, is also the opening track for the album, and provides a Hands Like Houses sound but with
a darker edge that was unexpected by most fans. With a brilliant continual riff that carries
throughout the chorus, and Trenton’s monstrous “I AM DISSONANCE” scream at the end of the track
before the breakdown still sends the same chills down my spine that I got on my first play of the
Another of the singles, ‘Colourblind’, follows this wonderful new approach from the band
including screamed vocals, which will not only bring in newer fans that are yet to hear of the band,
but also keep us older fans well locked into their new pathway.
The final single, ‘New Romantics’ possesses many of the bands earlier musical elements and
provides a stunning anthemic sound that I can really see gracing stages worldwide in the near future.
Moving onto the newer, unheard tracks, my first highlight is ‘Perspectives’. Providing the second
track on the album, it offers a slightly less rocky sound compared to the opening track, ‘I Am’, whilst
still allowing Trenton to show off both his clean and unclean vocals. ‘Glasshouse’ has a calming,
deceptive opening before bursting into a huge track which is currently my favourite track from the
album. With beautiful lyrics following a semantic field of nature, the track provides a great
headbanging opportunity as well as those amazing soaring vocals that the band love to implement,
with a stunning breakdown to close out the song.
‘Division Symbols’ and ‘Stillwater’ are the albums two slightly slower tracks, which really provides
the listener with a chance to listen to the perfect complementation between the vocals and
instruments. The haunting lyrics in ‘Division Symbols’ - ‘Let me count the ways you kill me’- followed
by urgent sounding unclean vocals really suggest a desperation, a tone that comes through from
Hands Like Houses songs so many times so effortlessly and truly adds another edge to their music.
‘Stillwater’ is an even slower song than ‘Division Symbols’, and is by far the most relaxed track on the
album, similarly to ‘A Fire On A Hill on Unimagine. This calming contrast is a wonderful interruption
to the heavier songs that the album gifts us with.
‘Momentary’ has a ballad feel to the track, but is a track that doesn’t excite me too much from Dissonants. Track 9, ‘Motion Sickness’, is a beautiful love song about a lost flame that left even me contemplating missed chances and mistakes made within my old relationships. Similarly to ‘Momentary’, track number ten ‘Degrees of Seperation’ is another weaker track, which may take a few more listens for me to begin to love like the rest of the album.
However, it’s saving grace is the final two songs on the album. ‘Grey Haven’ brings back the
wonderful Hands Like Houses energy that they are so known for, and brings back that urge to
headbang or at least tap the table with whatever object comes nearest to your hands. Closing out
the album is the wonderful ‘Bloodlines’. With the thudding intro that you just know will have crowds
breaking floors worldwide during Hands Like Houses shows, it drifts into a mesmeric first chorus
followed up by a repetitive drum beat accompanying Trenton’s wonderful vocals. This is a perfect
song to close the album on and one that I can truly see closing out future shows – a stunning end to
an album that I wish had no end.
But I suppose that’s what replay buttons were made for. And thankfully for me, I’ve been able to
have this album firmly stuck on repeat for the last week. This album is huge, and I promise any fan of
Hands Like Houses, whether you know every word to every song from the first two albums, whether
you only know the highlights of the last album (‘Developments’ and ‘Shapeshifters’ lets not kid
ourselves here…) or whether they’re a band that you’ve heard of and never listened to – LISTEN. I
beg you. And I can honestly promise that you will enjoy Dissonants, you’d be crazy not to.
Highlights – Bloodlines, Colourblind, New Romantics, Perspectives
Written by Laurie Cromwell
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