Hessian | ‘Manegarmr’
Not everyone's been a fan of Southern Lord's approach to selecting – if not fostering – those bands who've smudged the boundaries between hardcore, death and even, sometimes, black metal.
Is it something they set out to do, or have they been merely reflecting natural developments going on throughout the scene?
Well, probably the latter. For metal fans of an era of neatly defined segments, all this still comes as a bit of a shock sometimes, even though we're well past the point when it should.
Enter Hessian, from Belgium, who share members with respected crusties Amenra. They're yet another example of a headspinning meld of hardcore, death metal and even a touch of that modern blackness that seems to no longer have a genre at all.
They sound ferocious across this record, angry as hell and determined to show it.
Mostly this hostility comes out in the vocals. Colin Van Eeckhout has that wonderful quality of sounding ghostly while in your face, with his meaty mid range, ashy growl. It's great on every track, but finds its standout moment on the wonderful 'Swallowing Nails'.
It's a pretty fast record in general, with pinging ride bell cymbals accentuating the speed when they choose to ratchet it up ('Ascension').
When they're slow, they're crushing in the mould of Pyrexia and Xybalba, only delivered with slightly more roughness and abandon.
'Plague Monger' is utterly caustic, bringing the d-beat back in to remind everyone where they came from. With its matted snare drum rolls it's the most evocative of the squat hardcore that's influenced them.
Elsewhere, 'Hollow Eyes' blasts forward in a mix of waspish black metal guitar and some more of that d-beat pulse. It's a fascinating and energising mix.
The thing about this band is that none of the above seems to be done out of flippancy or opportunism. These aren't some lumberjack shirt wearing hair farmers from upstate New York – they're from Belgium for crying out loud.
This is the real thing. Pure anger, a swirling mass of guitar pinned in by some great drumming with vocals like a sand blaster. Don't worry about the genres – just feel the hate seething from this excellent album.
4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 05/05/13