Hangman's Chair hail from France and have been around since 2006. Three albums and several splits gave this band a steady number of followers and the desired spots on notorious festival stages. Over the years, this quartet evolved from a somewhat typical stoner rock band into the grunge loaded doom rock act they are today. With 'This Is Not Supposed To Be Positive' they've certainly delivered one of the strongest stoner related albums of the year.
What immediately strikes me is how simple and dark the album has become. Opener 'Dripping Low' drives on a very inomate guitar riff but it works damn well. It gives the whole this cold, gloomy atmosphere that I always loved in bands like Alice In Chains. 'Cut Up Kids' continues on that astonishing path, of course aided by the clean, melodic vocals of Cedric. To be honest, I couldn't imagine better vocals for this music. These are perfect, reminding me a little bit of Life Of Agony.
Type O Negative, Alice In Chains, Life Of Agony, those are odd names for a stoner doom album, you might think and you're absolutely right about that. Yet, I'll add some more odd references. How about the cold, dark but dreamy sounds of bands like The Cure, Anathema or even Slowdive. It's all here, interwoven in highly immersive doom rock. Naturally, this wouldn't be decent doom rock if there weren't Black Sabbath riffs, which you get plenty of.
What sets this album apart from most others in this genre is the songwriting ability that the band shows. While most bands focus on heavy riffing and smashing drums, Hangman's Chair make amazing songs. Songs for the depressed, the lonely and the lost. They're not very positive songs, but at least there's much more going on than just being hypnotized by tons of fuzz. 'Your Stone' for example is simply beautiful, a classic vintage hard rock ballad.
'Save Yourself' issues a bit more of that dark, almost gothic, shoegaze feel and by now I'm definitely sold. I have to admit that I had to get used to this album, listening to it a few times. Perhaps in a similar way to other bands I had to get used to before I became a huge fan, including Led Zeppelin, My Dying Bride and The Cure. Now, when I listen to 'Flashback', I'm getting goosebumbs. This is one damn emotional song, heavy and loaded with desperation.
With 'This Is Not Supposed To Be Positive', Hangman's Chair take us on a deeply emotional journey and give the listener an intimate look into their souls. They borrow some of the best elements from rock's massive history and turn them into a distinct sound. That sound is loaded with misery, sadness and tragedy. Expect this French quartet to turn up on huge stages in the near future. They are certainly on their way to doom metal stardom...