Hangmans Chair

Amager Bio, Copenhagen - 2022

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

As one of my all-time favourite bands, Paradise Lost, went on tour for their Obsidian album, they brought along a band I had never heard of before, the French doom quartet Hangman’s Chair.

In a pitchblack Amager Bio, accompanied by a deep, gloomy intro clip, the four men took the stage to a hesitant greeting - Mehdi Birouk Thépegnier, drums, first, but he was soon followed by the rest of them, and they dived into their first song. This, my web fu tells me, was An Ode To Breakdown, and I guess it’s as certain as anything else. You see, the band just started playing, and they went on playing, and in fact, they did nothing but play for their entire stage time. Not a single word was spoken except for the lyrics of the songs, and there was hardly any space between songs either, making it extremely hard for the uninitiated to follow along.
That the band was hard on not using a single front light either, making them all look like shadows moving on stage, especially so singer/guitarist Cédric Toufouti, didn’t exactly make anything easier.

However, what Hangman’s Chair lacked in verbal communication, they made up for in its emotional equivalent. The atmosphere was thick, and the music that filled the room pulled in a large crowd that would otherwise not hesitate to stand outside until the main act went on.
Going from a hesitant beginning, the Danish crowd was now more than happy to cheer the band along, whenever there seemed to be an opportune moment for it.
It was also fun to see that even though Hangman’s Chair mostly dealt in very heavy, slow and emotional music, especially Thépegnier and guitarist Julien Rour Chanut delivered it as though they were in a lively hardcore band. They were both very active in their performance, and Chanut used a lot of the stage to his advantage. Clément Hanvic, bass, also moved around a bit, although with less spunk and more gravitas than his brother in strings.

It’s quite hard to give an accurate opinion on what Hangman’s Chair gave the audience that night.
On the one hand, there are several technical aspects I feel they could have used o a better advantage in selling themselves to the audience. They played for about 45 minutes - it wouldn’t have hurt anyone if they’d spent five or so of these on actually introducing themselves and their material. They may be 15+ years and six full-length albums into their career, but as far as I can tell, this was their first ever visit to Denmark, and I have no real feeling that anyone really knew them from before. Not sure anyone knew them afterwards either, to be honest.
On the other hand, it felt good to stand and watch, and definitely listen to Hangman’s Chair, so given that, it was a good visit, and an enjoyable experience.
Make of that what you will.

Setlist (supposedly):

An Ode To Breakdown
Cold & Distant
Who Wants To Die Alone
Dripping Low

Hangmans Chair

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