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Hands of Despair – Bereft – Album Review

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Hands of Despair
Release Date: 9 February 2016
Deathbound Records
Review by Matt Bolton

Knowing very little about this band from Montreal, I was blown away when hearing Sleeper on YouTube. Bereft, being Hands of Despair’s second full length was absolutely flawless and keeps getting better after each listen.

Opening track Reborn features death growls a-plenty and 6 minutes into the song the bass playing of Francois-Xavier Jodoin stands out, this only being an introduction to the man’s certain groove. Ending with a subtle piano outro that would please the gothics in the house and continuing with title track Bereft showing clean vocals perfected by Jeff Mott.

The clean vocals and acoustic guitar remind me of Opeth in their Blackwater Park heyday. Death growls soon set in and when it all seems to mellow down, blast beats destroy any idea of that happening. An eerie riff creates a true evil atmosphere and we have a classic black metal sounding tune on our hands.

Sleeper doesn’t take long for Etienne Gallo to lay down some blast beats with powerful riffs by both Maxime Côté and Alexandre Primeau. The bass line is infectious yet again throughout, keeping up frantically to the ever changing drum technique. Veil, being the shortest song on the record, clocking in at just over 4 minutes, manages to chop and change like a rough boat ride out on unpredictable waters.

The album isn’t short of inspiring solos, Remnants showcasing them throughout working with the tight musicianship of the band. ETOC is a highlight of mine showing the way both death and black metal are in sync with each other. The thrashing of the drums and ultimate chaos soak in on this track. Ending with the epic Void all good things must come to an end.

Hands of Despair have really nailed down their progressive brand of black metal and this new fan is excited to see what other great music the band have up their sleeves. m/

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