Canberra, Australia’s five-piece Hands Like Houses have already played Warped Tour twice, toured with bands like A Day to Remember, worked with Paramore’s producer James Paul Wilsner, and released two albums.
Their third, “Dissonants,” is, to be blunt, a masterpiece.
It’s heavy, melodic, full of angst, simultaneously galvanizing and introspective, and brilliantly produced by Wilsner.
There are a few influences immediately apparent: early 2000s melodic metal bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, and Bullet For My Valentine, to name a few. But on tracks like #5 “Glasshouse,” influences from Red Hot Chili Peppers come to mind; guitarist Matt “Coops” Cooper’s frenetic picking sounds like a heavy Parallel Universe. Bassist Joel Tyrrell supports this comparison in track #4 “New Romantics,” with heavy distorted slap bass.
Opening track “I Am” is a fantastic choice for the album’s opener; it represents all of the upcoming energy, grit, and the emotional urgency of lead vocalists Trenton Woodley’s lyrics. Furthermore, it highlights the diversity of Woodley’s range: from soft to screaming, from confessional crooning to a Chris Cornell howl.
These influences I’m throwing out (Soundgarden, Chili Peppers, A7X) mingle and metastatically shift into thousands of other flashes throughout the album. Black Sabbath gloominess, Led Zeppelin swagger, and System of a Down feverish energy pop up here and there, and the five band members somehow take all of these occasionally disparate sounds to create a uniform, unique personality.
And if I were pressed to describe this personality, I would call Hands Like Houses moody, heavy, melodic pop metal. There are delicious double-bass drum fills underneath guitar riffs so heavy they’d register on the Richter scale (see track #3 “Colourblind”) offset by hooky choruses and catchy instrumental snippets.
What the band does best, however, is capturing that special adolescent anguish for which this musical genre is famous. They compassionately express the teenage energy, the disillusionment with establishment, homesickness, finding oneself, and struggling to find happiness - feelings which evoke that unique form of nostalgia that brings young people to music.
This album is undoubtedly going to attract a huge amount of people to the band, but more importantly, to music itself. Dissonants is accessible, empathetic, and brilliantly made.
1. I Am
4. New Romantics
6. Division Symbols
9. Motion Sickness
10. Degrees of Separation
11. Grey Havens