Review: Hateful Abandon, Liars/Bastards (Candlelight, 2015)

Originally released on Todestrieb Records in March of last year, and now via Candlelight Records, Liars/Bastards is the uniquely diverse seven-song/43-minute third album from UK duo Hateful Abandon.

"Maze of Bastards" kicks things off with a fusion of dark ambient/death industrial textures and "tribal," Neurosis-like percussion—utilizing assorted lightly melodic hums and drones, and a classic power electronics style of shouting vocals. "Culprit," however, follows with a dark, post-punk aesthetic—stacking pulsing synths over a basic drum beat, swirling amidst melodic drones and assorted textural guitar work; while the vocals sway from monotone singing to a "lighter" form of shouting.

"High Rise" represents a more structured take on the dark ambient/death industrial angle with a sparse, repetitive bassline, frantic drums, and a combination of loose guitar riffs and textural sounds with rhythmically integrated samples. "The Test" then heads back in a post-punk direction with stripped down melodic synths, simplistic percussion, barely distinguishable spoken samples, and vocals reminiscent of The Cure. Similar approaches make up "The Walker," where repetitious bass and percussion with slowly droning synth melodies and rhythmically arranged samples (sounding like crunching gravel and scraping metal) lay the groundwork for a vocal approach that brings Joy Division to mind.

The vocals return to that power electronics style of shouting under a delay filter in "There Will Never be Peace," which also brings in faster-paced percussion and swelling drones, but still retains an undercurrent of sinister melody. And "December"—the longest track at 10+ minutes—is the most "relaxed" in some ways: exploring more of a lush, chilled out vibe, at least for the first half, at which point a sinister drone takes over and shifts the piece into an equally restrained yet darker direction (including what is probably my favorite vocal performance of the entire album—somehow more emotional, it stirs up more feeling as a whole).

I've not heard Hateful Abandon's prior work, but I'm extremely curious based on this material, so I'll have to do some digging. Beautifully dark and intriguing, Liars/Bastards is repetitive but never dull, thanks in large part to the strengths of its hypnotic and atmospheric qualities. And while there are some obvious influences at work, the duo is certainly not lacking originality—blending this range of influences into something that refuses to fit into any singular genre, while still feeling cohesive. Plus, their abstractness remains song-based enough that I could see their material being somewhat of a "gateway" for listeners who aren't quite ready to dive into the full-on noisier and more experimental side of things, which is very cool.

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