Generally speaking, metal bands can get away with having lame monikers. Metalheads are an aesthetically forgiving people on the whole; we are happy to overlook flawed productions, horrid art, and laughable band names, so long as the songs are good enough. It's one of our culture's more appealing traits. We cut through the window dressing.

But even we draw a line sometimes. When I first came across New York's So Hideous a few years ago, they were called So Hideous, My Love. My first thought when I read the name: "Nope." Visions of tear guards danced in my head.

Their new name is more palatable. So Hideous still fall well into the artsy end of the spectrum, though. Their new album, Last Poem/First Light, features textural support from a fifteen-piece strings-and-throats ensemble called The First Light Orchestra, and the band claims the 20th-century classical composers Phillip Glass and Arvo Part as influences.

It's a stretch, and one that So Hideous doesn't need to make. Their music — an even blend of hardcore, post-rock, and black metal — stands strong without the grandiose comparisons. Last Poem/First Light sounds tonally huge and powerful, which is important for such melodically delicate music. I typically find the combination of metal and classical ensemble arrangements hokey as all get-out, but it works remarkably well here. The softer textures enrich the guitars, rather than overwhelming them. The presence of both blastbeats and Envy-esque melodic striving ensure that So Hideous will be compared to a certain ubiquitous Californian two-piece. For my money, this is the more enjoyable album of the two. I hope it receives the attention it deserves.

Last Poem/First Light will be self-released on October 22. Stream "My Light" below.

— Doug Moore



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