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Hangman's Chair : Banlieue Triste

Both perfect and perfectly bleak, Hangman's Chair unflinchingly face up to the dark side of human existence.

And so, the devastatingly dark, painfully honest, and eternally anguished Hangman's Chair return with their fifth full length album, the follow up to the 2015's aptly named 'This Is Not Supposed to Be Positive'. That album, like those that preceded it, was a journey into the dark heart of Hangman's Chair's native Paris; deep into the bleak drug-addled suburbs, a world away from the galleries, designer stores and restaurants that the tourists flock to. Addiction, self-harm, boredom, disillusionment, and even suicide are all dealt with unflinchingly in Hangman's Chair's music. Sometimes it's hard to listen to, such is the intensity of the subject matter, but it's impossible to turn off. Catharsis? Voyeurism? Take your pick. Either way, it's raw and compelling, and will get under your skin.

Long term fans on the band will be pleased to learn that 'Banlieue Triste' is another unflinching exploration of inner darkness. In fact, if anything, this latest release is the darkest, most haunting of all so far. Opening track, 'Banlieue Triste' is a chilling instrumental number that is heavy on the reverb, creating a deep, echoing sense of foreboding about what is follow. 'Na´ve' follows seamlessly with a pummelling riff even as the reverb of the opener is still dying away. Lyrically, it's as brutal and riddled with self-loathing as Hangman's Chair fans have come to expect. "Face how fucked up we are/face how lonely I want to be", drawls singer Cedric Toufouti in typically angst-ridden fashion.

'Sleep Juice' soon follows. And when these guys refer to sleep juice, I think we can all be fairly certain they're not referring to a nice hot mug of Horlicks before bed. Featuring jangly, arpeggiated guitar accompanied by a gentler vocal delivery which works effectively to create a colder, more angular and chilling sound. It's a technique that is used to great effect throughout the whole album and serves to add depth to the sludgy distorted riffs and more aggressive passages. It's anger - rage, even - but it's controlled, calculated. And all the more powerful for it.

On an album with so many highlights, it's difficult to pick a standout track, but the epic 'Touch The Razor' just shades it and is one of the finest moments in an already very fine back catalogue. A journey into a place in the human psyche the most fortunate of us will only visit fleetingly, or if we're really blessed, not at all; it's an 11.5-minute tour de force of sparse, icy melodies, brutal, fuzzed out distorted riffs and lyrics that, as the title of the track suggests, take the listener to a scary place. "I believe in the bleakness around us", says Toufouti. And you will, too. You really will.

'Banlieue Triste' is challenging in its unflinching analysis of the dark side of human nature, and packs a genuine emotional punch in a way that is far too rare. I listen to this album, and I think about the world around us; the hatred, the bigotry, the fear and suspicion, the recent brush with global nuclear Armageddon, and I wonder why more artists are not expressing themselves in a similar way. I believe in the bleakness around us.

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Reviewer's rating: 10/10


Tracklist :
1. Banlieue Triste
2. Na´ve
3. Sleep Juice
4. Touch The Razor
5. Tara
6. 04/09/16
7. Tired Eyes
8. Negative Male Child
9. Side Bel Abbes
10. Full Ashtray

Duration : Approx. 68 minutes

Visit the Hangman's Chair bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-06-02 by Nick Harkins
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