Cold Comfort is the debut album by the London-based four piece, and it’s clear from the outset this isn’t music for the faint of heart. Their previous EP, Blue Skies, established Hana Piranha’s distinctive sound as hard rock characterised by snarling aggression and topped off with Hana’s virtuoso electric violin work. Cold Comfort’s opening track, Back Again, is a sterling example, a war cry of a song that showcases Hana’s powerful, husky vocals.
But if you were expecting the rest of the album to bear out an uplifting redemption story, the next few tracks will come as a nasty surprise. The musical grit and nastiness provided by the full-throated guitars is just a backdrop for the startlingly dark lyrics, and they don’t get much darker than they do on Chipping Myself Away, so raw it’s both uncomfortable to listen to and utterly compelling. Incubus, by comparison, is a deeply uneasy thing, marrying intensely disturbing lyrics with sparse instrumentation and an insidious, whisper-soft vocal. For a young band, such varied songwriting is a sure sign of good things to come. Meanwhile, Dirty Arrows is deceptively catchy, with rueful lyrics belying the almost radio-friendly hook, while the title track, Cold Comfort, follows in the same vein with some stellar lead guitar work.
Ice And Rain marks another shift in tone, this time to withering disdain and sarcasm you can almost taste. Hana sneering, “You really think you’re gonna take me home? Come on, baby, get your chloroform,” is a deliciously nasty moment of brilliance in a very solid album. Drinking For Two picks back up where Incubus left off, plumbing even deeper, darker depths, but then Rosie is a slice of surprising sweetness in the turbulence.
Cold Comfort also sees the band beginning to add some more electronic elements to their sonic landscape – Sackcloth And Ashes features prominent synthesizers, a drum-machine style beat and Mindless Self Indulgence-esqe whip cracks, while the opening bars of Sunshine, with their twitchy industrial percussion, sound like something Angelspit might have written. The disarmingly optimistic Sunshine is probably the most violin-heavy track on the record, and maybe it’s a band trying not to get boxed in by a “gimmick”, but it’s still a shame because it was, at least in part, made their previous singles so memorable. But the songwriting and performance is so assured that the whole thing still comes together, and that? That is impressive. Watch this space.
Cold Comfort is available now on iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp. Find out more at Hana Piranha’s website.