WHEN it comes to cheerful misery and doom-laden emotional tales then it could be your too happy and you should add Honey for Christ’s first full-length album, The Cruelty of Great Expectations, to your regular listening.

Northern Ireland's Honey for Christ
Lyrically this offering from the Northern Ireland trio is enough to turn the happiest, clappiest, tambourine wielding Salvation Army member into a tattoo bedecked alcoholic; it makes angst ridden emos seem genuinely happy souls.

Slayer offered a dystopian global view in World Painted Blood, Honey for Christ reach into the deepest parts of each individual’s soul; where bleakness and desolation stamp down the smiles.

But musically there is a pure joy to listen to such well-arranged, dark metal.

Live favourites such as album closer The Final Transition, and recent single offering, All Hope Was Strangled, will already be familiar to fans of the band. However, they are now placed firmly in an aural landscape that broods, menaces and snaps you into a place, where, as HFC say: “the serpent eats the sun”.

And therein lies a strength for Honey for Christ that too many emerging acts forget. There is a need for metaphors in lyrics, and the music must match the tone of the lyrics and vice versa. Arrangements can be overlooked by eager musos who’ve just come up with a riff, without thinking how it can be fitted into a fluid song. Gigging and recording have honed Honey for Christ into a tight studio force as well as an awesome live act.

Take a close listen to Another Way Down and its landscape, painted in lush tones of despair, with gloom slowly building to inner terror, the terror behind every business suit briefcase carrying drone or power-dressed woman eager for the top.

Plunge into the seven minute opus of Failures Within, and wrench apart the souls’ clothes that hide the trembling beast in poor bindings.

Self-confessed influences of Katatonia and Slayer can be traced, but the landscape of The Cruelty of Great Expectations is one also populated by time changes at times akin to Dream Theater, slowed down hints of Down and the inner consideration of Gojira. But from this melange a great spice has been extracted – one with the dark beating heart of heavy metal strident in its blood-soaked glory. Gothic was never so good.

Great expectations can be cruel, for the flipside of hope is despair. David Lee Roth once said that Eddie Van Halen was only happy when he was miserable. Misery isn’t so bad when Honey for Christ’s misery can make one so happy.

The Cruelty of Great Expectations is available from 7th April on Rundown Records.

Honey for Christ are: Chris Armstrong (drums), Andy Clarke (vocals/guitar) and Paul McCoberts (bass).

Album launch party is Saturday 9th April at the Spring and Airbrake.

Authors: Jonny

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