Hymns – Cardinal Sins / Contrary Virtues
Music is an ever divided commodity in the modern age of the 99p single. Finding a niche that will develop a core audience is important to musical success, Hymns have chosen one of the oddest market segments possible, Atheism.
Samuel Manville is the former guitarist/vocalist for Birmingham Math Core band Blakﬁsh. Whilst on a European tour supporting Biffy Clyro in 2010 the band split. Manville has since hooked up with Peter Reisner to form, in their own words, a ‘sharp atheist rock band’. Double album ‘Cardinal Sins/Contrary Virtues’ is their debut offering and it’s a very mixed bag.
The contrast between the two halves of the album is quite signiﬁcant, ‘Contrary Virtues’ has moments of delicacy that deserve to be highlighted. ‘Diligence’ is a track that Beirut would be proud of, with its swaying melody and accordion accompaniment. ‘Honesty’ is a pleasant acoustic shufﬂe that ticks along nicely and does little to offend. The vocals are more pared down and the arrangement more layered on these tracks, they are more inviting for it.
‘Cardinal Sins’ though is a quagmire that must be waded through to get to the half decent material. The ﬁrst act of this double album is epic in its scope but fails to deliver on what it aims to achieve. The minimal band set up is not the issue, the sound is mostly full, it is the rhythm that pulls Hymns down. The songs chop and change so much they are hard to identify; this constant shifting becomes quite nauseating and the energy required to carry off this approach is not present. The songs are in a garage style, like early Greenday or The White Stripes, but instead of the raw pulse that invigorates ‘The White Stripes’ or ‘Kerplunk’, a strange blandness emerges.
The shifts in tempo are no doubt a hangover of Manville’s Math Core days, but rather than sounding like Black Fag or, in a more modern setting, Battles, Hymns have an Arctic Monkeys B-side odour that is quite unpleasant. The lyrics are as self-righteous as Christian rock, with all the predictability and misplaced good intention. The vocal style has a very Coxon/Albarn ring to it on occasion and is more interesting when it is used with measure, screaming to give a song energy very rarely does, alas the passion it tries to imbue here is lost in translation far too often.
‘Contrary Virtues’ is worth a listen and is the light shining under the door of a dark room. ‘Cardinal Sins’ does not deliver much and is largely tuneless, over the course of 16 tracks the sound of Hymns does begin to grate, hopefully the duo can go on to explore their more experimental side and craft more rounded songs and not a series of unconnected ideas strung together. Launching one’s career with a double album is a hugely ambitious, and arguably self-indulgent, gamble and Hymns may have been better advised to have extracted the half dozen or so good tracks on show here in to one decent album.
One of the more palatable tracks is available as a free download here:
Released 14th November on Function Records / Big Scary Monsters
Echo Rating (((●●•)))
Posted by Charles Bertie
Tags: Big Scary Monsters, Cardinal Sins, Charles Bertie, Contrary Virtues, Function Records, Hymns