The New York band So Hideous, My Love...breach traditional black metal ethos by moving into the controversial “post-” territory, their group name sounds like a screamo fan's tossed-off moniker for their fantasy band, and their mixture of hard sounds with florid string orchestration edges them closer to commercial hard rock bands like Evanescence than dyed in the wool black metal bands like Mayhem. So we should just take a cursory listen and then move on, right? Not so fast.
It's nothing new for a metal band to use a string section or an orchestra to give an added dimension of melody to the more tender moments in their oeuvre, and in some cases, a string section can emphasize heavy sections through sheer density of sound - the bloated but nonetheless interesting collaboration between Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra hinted at the highs and lows made possible by just such a meeting. What So Hideous, My Love... do on their latest EP is to cull a sound that transmits a powerful and dark atmosphere without sounding like the band just dumped an orchestra's overdubs on top of a black metal album.
It's worth noting that the band didn't have to run to outside sources to pen the string parts here, as co-composer Brandon Cruz “wrote the songs and the string arrangements to sound urgent, emotive and 'huge,'” meaning, if nothing else, that the immensity that Cruz had in mind included this marriage of classical and metal from the inception.
One danger of making ornate music that stretches across these particular genres is a risk of pretension. So Hideous, My Love...mostly skirt that tag by a.) communicating through feeling and mood and relying less on technical prowess or over-explanation and b.) by releasing a deliciously concise EP in To Clasp A Fallen Wish With Broken Fingers. At only four songs, the EP barely has a chance to overstay its welcome, which makes it all the more surprising how much atmosphere the band manage to drum up. Opener “Handprints On Glass” builds from an ominous intro to a striking metal assault at around two minutes in, and the strings surge to keep up with the groaning guitar and Chris Cruz's throat-scarring screams. It makes for a tremendous sound, which then subsides for the entirely classical “Prelude in G-Sharp Minor.”