Despite being newcomers to the realm of blackgaze and all things related, Sheffield's Hidden Mothers have already forged a remarkable reputation for themselves. Following a succession of shows with the likes of Blanket, Planes Mistaken For Stars and Wren, the quintet have more than proved their worth as a unit capable of mirroring the ravaging intensity of their influences. Whilst the Northern live circuit has experienced this first hand, Hidden Mothers are now on the cusp of displaying their breathtaking dynamism to the greater contemporary black metal scene as a whole, a display that is undoubtedly set to astonish all who experience it. Released this Friday via Surviving Sounds, the self-titled EP from the Hidden Mothers is prepped to set the blackened post-metal world alight.
A three-chapter novella documenting the various natures of loss – the loss of life, the loss of humanity, and the loss of oneself – Hidden Mothers articulate their ethos and emotion by incorporating elements of strained screamo, timeless post-hardcore and ethereally majestic post-metal into their take on callous blackgaze. Granted, it’s not the first time an act of this nature has attempted to amalgamate genres, but what separates this act from their peers is their sheer aptitude. This may be their very first multi-track release, but it’s utterly devoid of awkward missteps found within such early work. In fact, it’s confident, towering and emits it’s intended atmosphere of anguish with flawless precision. What transpires is a record that coalescences the emotional power of a myriad of sensibilities whilst forgoing the more ignorant elitism associated with stereotypical blackened metal.
Opener ‘Beneath, To The Earth’ introduces such experimentation in a way that’s subtle, yet undebatable. As frontman Steffen Benham details his experiences with death with the vocal intensity that mirrors Deafheaven and Oathbreaker, Hidden Mothers slowly hybridise post-hardcore melodics into blackgaze winds. As the track continues into a passage that sounds akin to MØL penning a Foxing single, the record’s flexibility and fluidity becomes transparent. As detailed and made concrete with the track’s tear streaked climax that mirrors the composed restlessness of acts such as Birds In Row and Svalbard, Hidden Mothers balance blackened outbursts with translucent and self-aware dexterity.
Such infusions beyond of realm of blackened extremity greatly intensify the human sorrow that underpins the record. The self-contemplative ‘My Own Worth’ opts for a more withdrawn approach, with it’s sodding reverb straddling the metaphysical line between being dreamy and nightmarishly asphyxiating. Yet, whilst the track sits more within the grandiose structures of ethereal post-metal - with parallels between the track and the more luscious work of Alcest being achievable – it’s more minimalist nature only enhances the intimate woe that this record releases.
With it’s willingness to embrace the welcome unexpected in order to enhance it’s emotional atmosphere, this EP maintains an air of permanent unexpectedness. Over the span of it’s 20 minute run time, the EP tosses and turns ceaselessly, swerving through left-field turns and unprecedented detours. Despite it's ceaselessly fluid nature, it’s never not concise and direct. Hidden Mothers articulate their woes and ensure you feel the same blighting sensations via the means of genre dynamics and suffocating atmosphere. It undoubtedly belongs within the halls of blackened metal, but followers of all things aggressive, mournful and authentically emotionally dense will find plenty to fawn over here.
Ending on the towering achievement of ‘My Blindness, My Burden’, the track that majestically encapsulates the experience and colossal power of this young band, it’s impossible not be awed by this release. Frankly, It’s absolutely stunning that an emerging band with only handful of material can sound just as grandiose, originative and accomplished as this. Make no mistake, this EP is monolithically breathtaking in every way possible and will find itself upon many end of year lists just a few months down the line. Not bad for a debut at all.
Hidden Mothers is released September 18th via Surviving Sounds. Pre-order the EP here.