Reflective, pensive swathes of shoegaze sounds engulf the senses as we experience Embrace, a heads-down shroud of mournful noise that makes Hell Is Other People an initially intriguing prospect. Obviously we’re not in dreamy-pop territory – Hell Is Other People are ostensibly a metal band after all – but Embrace does deliver swirly, post-metal, dreamscape evoking stuff….that is until they ironically unleash all hell by simply going like this:
“AAAAHHHHHRRRGGGGHHHHH” (blast-beats, blast-beats), “AAAAIIIEEEEEEEEE”, (more blast-beats).
They do this until your ears piss blood and makes the idea of listening to nothing but ear-drum perforating white noise for the rest of your life sound appealing! That’s pretty much the pattern on Embrace‘s 4 track duration; very long tracks which alternate between shoe gazing and tin-can-clattering black metal.
We’re oversimplifying but you get the picture.
As black metal goes this is suitably abrasive but lacks enough significant variation to make it palatable while the shoegaze moments offer enough juxtaposition – as was the intention we would assume – to make the bleak bits, bleaker. There’s no doubt that Hell Is Other People are at their best when gazing at the floor, their fragments of post-metal/shoegaze offering far more to think about than when they’re icily blasting away like a freezer on the fritz!
On re-reading it looks like we hate Embrace, and we certainly don’t. As a commentary on the state of mankind you certainly can’t fault Hell Is Other People’s nihilistic intentions, and Embrace works perfectly well if you want to make it crystal clear that right now, the world is nothing more than a shit sandwich! We’re also on board with the name these guys from Ontario, Canada have seen fit to christian themselves with. Hell is indeed other people and the music they deliver more than meets the expectations their name immediately prompts. Incidentally, “hell is other people” is a line taken from Jean Paul Sartre’s influential play, No Exit. It’s deep stuff, we won’t even attempt to go into it.
Back to the music. This kind of post black metal is a tricky beast to balance at the best of times and Hell Is Other People haven’t quite reached the required equilibria…..at least not his time anyway. They do give you plenty to think about though! 6/10