Review by Anthony Cruz and Jasmine Ortiz

February 26, 2016 – Hands Like Houses – Dissonants

Hailing all the way from Canberra, Australia, Hands Like Houses has never been a stranger to hard work. The band has spent the last several months touring and producing music in support of their forthcoming album, Dissonants, which is bound to be their most influential release yet. Having released two albums previously with Rise Records, this band has had no trouble forming its own niche in the past. They have acquired a great deal of fame on account of singer Trenton Woodley’s beautiful clean vocals and their unique approach to post-hardcore music. The band’s newest record tackles more mainstream styling, combining metalcore with many pop and electronic influences, continuing to use synth in the same catchy way that the band always has. So although the band retains many aspects of their previous sound, it is undeniable that their new style is a step forward for the group. The band’s single “Colourblind” has even reached rock radio in the United States, showing how massive the band’s small change really is.

The first single from the album, “I Am,” was produced primarily by famed producer and writer Erik Ron, known for his work with We Came As Romans, Crown the Empire, Motionless in White, and more. This single leads the album with an incredibly catchy post-hardcore song that serves as a smooth transition from Unimagine. The next track, “Perspectives,” one which the band played on the Dissonants World Tour, is the first real taste, aside from previously released singles “New Romantics” and “Colourblind,” of the band’s new style. It takes on a relatively heavy sound; while playing it in New York, Woodley beckoned the crowd to head bang along to it. Another song played on tour was “Glasshouse,” a song that stands out particularly because of its strongly emotional lyrics and vocals, both of which are bound to give the listener strong feelings almost immediately. One track that truly stands out is my personal favorite, “Division Symbols,” which is an all-around flawless track that takes hold of various vocal styles and common aphorisms to convey its message. It is brilliantly constructed while remaining deeply personal and relatable, showing how the band has not traded depth for fandom. Another display of the bands emotional depth is the ending track, “Bloodlines.” This song, much like that previously mentioned, utilizes manipulations of common aphorisms in order to make its message more clear. Lyrics such as “just by killing time we kill ourselves” serve the listener well, providing an excellent conclusion to a very well-rounded album.

Overall, this album is incredibly catchy and well-made, chock-full of emotion, and truly innovates the rock genre even further than the band ever has before. The album was released later than previously expected, but it was well-worth the wait. The next chapter for Hands Like Houses will surely be one to remember, one to be characterized by raging crowds shouting back lyrics in large venues. While many critics described Ground Dweller, the band’s first release, as overambitious for such an inexperienced group, the band has grown significantly since the days of its debut LP. Dissonants is arguably even more ambitious than the notorious Ground Dweller and it is inarguably going to send the band soaring to new levels of success by merit of its creatively-evolved lyrics and musical style, both of which set the bar very high for future bands-to-come. Even Unimagine set the standard of composition very high, but the group was able to meet those standards and make a new name for itself. The band has been going strong since 2008 and this record makes it clear that the band is here to stay. Far from a stereotypical metalcore album, this album fuses the best elements of various different genres, making it an essential listen for music fans everywhere.

FFO: Slaves, I the Mighty, Silverstein, Dance Gavin Dance