Like many of the names given to various subgenres, blackgaze has come to describe such a broad spectrum of bands that it’s almost becoming a redundant term. Anything with a healthy of dose of blast beats and ethereal quality to its sound often gets labelled as such. However, the diverse palette with which Sheffield quintet Hidden Mothers paint their emotionally charged sound has much more in common with bands as diverse as Envy, Converge and post-metal titans ISIS. And whilst there are of course plenty of heavy, blastbeat-driven moments on display here, the focus of their sound is rooted in the melancholic intensity of post-metal rather than the bleak ferocity associated with the corpse paint-ridden entities of North European forests.
‘Beneath, To The Earth’ opens the three track self-titled EP with a huge, plaintive riff that soon escalates into a blastbeaten melancholic deluge, providing the perfect backdrop for vocalist Steffan Benham’s heart wrenching screams. Little past the halfway mark, the intensity gives way to a tender, softer passage which finds guitarist Luke Scrivens delivering some understated and intimate vocal lines before the desperate cries of Benham return, once again propelling the track to its final epic climax.
‘My Own Worth’ begins in a much more subdued fashion, as gently picked guitar notes shimmer across an atmospheric cosmos, creating a rich, cinematic sound. The drums make their entrance gently, anchored by a deep stirring bass line (four stringer Liam Knowles shines particularly bright on this track), punctuated by lilting guitar bends that flash like shooting stars across a blackened abyss. Closer ‘My Blindness, Your Burden’ is the darkest track here, opening with a forceful surge of energy akin to Deafheaven and MØL and chord structures that bring to mind Deftones at their most thundering and discordant. Once again, this diverse range of influences makes for one hell of an impressive sound.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, Hidden Mothers were already making a name for themselves on the live circuit. Now armed with this ridiculously impressive EP, when venues reopen they will no doubt become a must-see act for every fan of emotionally charged heavy music.
Hidden Mothers is out 18th September via Surviving Sounds and can be purchased here.
Words: Adam Pegg