Despereaux – ‘Hugging The Cactus’.
For our previous work on the band – Click Here.
It is far to say that Oslo Hardcore band Despereaux are very much as in as they are out of that very genre label. Hugging The Cactus is the band’s second release this year and to say that least, is really quite impressive, but why?
Well, cast your mind or cursor (the review is above you) to the band’s Cursed EP earlier this year. The band in but three tracks spun through fast Punk-Rock, Hardcore and Post-Hardcore as well as elements of Progressive Rock and Metal. Despereaux had melodies for days with equally harsh screams and shouts in direct following and in summation, Cursed was heavy beyond just the music.
You listen to the band’s music across the board and you hear tones of more than one great, with the likes of Modern Life Is War, Tool and Alexisonfire making enough of a direct or indirect influence, setting the “for fans of” references in abundance. So with that said, with the melodic Punk-charged Post-Hardcore of ‘The Fighter’ the latter of those three names notably fits really very well.
The eponymous track is in relative contrast the mammoth length of ‘The Fighter’. The former was fast and unrelenting in tempo and drive as well as being unexpectedly long, while the 2:22 time-stamp of its successor plays more with further Post-Hardcore structures and short bursts of cathartic energy rather than it being more constant as the band utilise more and more of styles at their disposal.
This more traditional Post-Hardcore meets its modern more melodic variant interplay continues in ‘Zürich’. The band bring forth the rage from the contemporary alongside the sharp precise structures laid down decades ago and it works. The then melodic vocals you may expect from Tool or general progressive non-Punk-rooted music permeate the track in direct contrast between the strained half-to-full screams that are so well executed.
Despereux begin to edge more into a Metal-led Hardcore sound in ‘Collecting Hood Ornaments’. The band ply classically toned guitars and short playful Punk guitar lines and interjections in what can only really be described with the heavily British influenced remark – “cheeky flutters”. In one track the band are near-constantly segueing between their progressive Punk and Hardcore and their admiration for Tool in such a manner that it is simply not possible to loose interest.
Despereux are gripping and they know it, they are really quite complicated and assault the listener with relentless variety that somehow is neither over bearing or gratuitous and thats impressive and precisely the reason the almost ten-minute ‘Anomaly’ works so well.
‘Anomaly’ quite notable shows the band’s most stripped down Punk-Rock alongside greater vocal inclusion from the band as a whole, as well as it does their most Progressive Rock-ism in structure. After quieter, slower and more dulcet stylistics – within the context of the band that is – Despereaux forever hint at another blast of heaviness and rage with anthemically toned and layered guitars that tease you of a full throttle approach at any given point but ultimately do not and that isn’t a criticism and it’s also a lie, because the sharp Punk/Post-Hardcore verses do indeed return.
‘Anomaly’ actually ends near slightly but for the eerie twang of the guitar which fades out into something not to dis-similar from the most recent At The Drive-In record in the short-sharp-stop-start near out of tune melodic intro via ‘Hiatus As In I Hate Us’.
This final track sees Despereaux almost completely forsake their heavier tendencies and focus on a lighter variant of their tried, tested and down right successful up-tempo Post-Hardcore Punk-Rock. However, I am indeed lying to you again as by the 1:10 mark the band have fallen into a low and again eerie and dramatic bass ebb. This ebb dramatically builds until 2:37 where onwards the band craft something really quite beautiful in the soundtrack/Post-Rock/Post-Hardcore/Math-esque amalgation of soaring layers, warped creschendos and determined percussion as they filter the last the of this EP and its catharsis through the emotional strainer.