Cardinal Sins/Contrary Virtues
Released: Nov 14 2011
Label: Function Records/Big Scary Monsters
By: Chris Fishlock
“Atheist rock” band †HYMNS†, formed by ex-Blakfish man Samuel Manville and fellow musician Peter Riesner have created a unique album littered with religious themes – performed mostly with just guitars and drums. Many of the musical arrangements on the album are inspired by classical pieces, but adapted perfectly into heavy rock; creating their own sound and edge over the current blandness of many rock bands today.
The songs are well performed by the two-piece act – from the slow build ups to the full loud guitar and drums onslaughts they present in many songs. It’s amazing how much noise the band manage to make with just a guitar and drum kit. Samuel’s vocals are a highlight, mixing between calm clear singing and gasping shouting, of which he switches between the two sometimes mid-verse. Samuel can adapt his voice to the perfect tone to go with whatever tempo or mood. The best track showcasing Manville’s vocal skills is ‘Tristitia’: Opening with a slow piano piece Samuel slowly sings along until the guitar kicks in and his powerful screaming takes over and Samuel shouts his last breathes on the album to calm piano sandwiched between the loud guitar parts.
As you can guess from the band name, album title and the “atheist rock” label they have given themselves – there are many religious undertones throughout the record. Opening and closing the album are the sounds of a church choir and many of the songs lyrically take on the atheist theme, and at times is cynical or sarcastic of faith and religion, sometimes mentioning such things as ‘the lord’ in disbelieving tones.
At 52 minutes long – keeping one main theme throughout and with the bands unique and basic sound the album creates its own mood and feel, giving back the meaning to the format of an album. This is more than a collection of songs written by the band, this is a collection of songs that sync together perfectly, creating one long piece rather than sixteen stand-alone tracks. †HYMNS† have created a highly competent and strong debut album, tackling strong themes with confidence.
†HYMNS† – A Punch To The Temple