4 out of 5
The Self-Titled EP from Atlanta based three-piece Hades demonstrates the band's ability to cover multiple genres, observe dynamics, and exhibit a talent for making complex music flow as if it were simple. The EP's first track, “Coast Guard,” is in seven but with the novel way in which the beat is played on the drums, most musician and non-musician listeners alike would never be aware of its odd meter.
The sound of this record goes from Type O Negative to Cave In to Portishead and Massive Attack, using tasteful electronics, odd time signatures, walls of guitar, piano and strings, lush production, and a lot of space where many similar bands would prefer to just fill it with noise and studio trickery. When one has access to electronics there is always the temptation to overdo it and play with all of the toys, but Hades is wise beyond their years.
The arrangement of these songs is very deliberate with no sound or instrument used without reason and like the musicians in a much larger band, everyone has a specific job and accomplishes their musical tasks with restraint. Kudos also go to producer/engineer Nicholas Duke and his ear at Pulse Recording. Everything on this record sounds as it should, from the indie sensibility of the drums to the mixing of Susie Hardie's calm and melancholy vocals. The production of this album is spot on, as are the tones of all the instruments and the use of stereo panning. One can tell that a lot of thought went into the concept and aesthetic of this EP and I only wish it was a full length.
The great thing about this record is that it sounds familiar but you've never heard it before. For music in the genre of electro-pop, and I use that term to describe Hades in its most loose and general definition, there is a danger of crossing the line into the realm of a band like Evanescence but that is avoided completely. It's easy to tell that these musicians had a plan upon entering the studio and they stuck with it. They knew how they wanted this record to sound, and more importantly, how they didn't want it to sound and that is only accomplished with taste and a road-map.
Each of the five tracks follows the last in a logical order; the emotion and dynamics ebbing and flowing with great calculation. If Atlanta's Hades continues their musical trajectory we can only expect more virtuosic and dynamic offerings from them in the future.