Deadweights by HyenasRelease date: March 10, 2017
Label: Pelagic Records
It’s a fine line for me with the whole spectrum of hardcore. I like the bands that can play true to the style, but if you get too comfortable with being true, you’re just another band. I’ve seen it countless times and that’s why for that particular style, there has to be something different for me to latch on to that will help keep my interest. Relative newcomers Hyenas have taken a style that has been popular and going in full force for ages now, and have added the mathcore subgenre and progressive tendencies to create an ear-pleasing and bombastic sound. The band wear their influences on their sleeves, with comparisons to Every Time I Die and Converge being well apparent, but they make a sound that’s all their own.
The formula that the German band possesses is one of being short and sweet. Give us an aural blast, make it abrasive, but don’t be afraid to warm certain edges of the style with your own little subtleties. I find this to be the main formula of their debut album Deadweights.
‘Noise’ opens up the proceedings with an atmospheric guitar intro with spoken word, and after that brief introduction, we move right into ‘Crooked Tongue’, featuring jangling bass and harsh vocals that propel the forcefulness of the delivery at first, with up-tempo drums and guitars giving off a hyper intensity. ‘Ambiself’ transitions from the previous song into this track, keeping the same frantic pace in check. ‘Crossbearer’ starts to show a more mid-paced and brooding expression to the band’s sound. While still played well technically, it’s not as urgent as the previous tracks. It shows a maturity in being able to go from a breakneck pace to a more calculated song structure.
‘Self-Adjusting’ is a very short track, which would be a good way for someone new to the band to sample them as it encapsulates all their nuances on the album so far in a quick sample process, which in my opinion would whet the appetite of a newcomer with just enough to leave them wanting more. ‘Homeostasis’ goes off on a total Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the frenetic performance, but not in a strict mathcore tribute sense. They make this sound their own while giving a nod to the legends, which is fine by me. ‘Verminious’ opens with a reprisal of the guitar line in ‘Noise’, which I find a little odd as it’s already been approached on this collection of songs, but they quickly venture into a lumbering jaunt, with an emphasis once again on the mid-paced, with some decent clean vocals mixed with the harsh.
‘Smoothtalkers’ is up-tempo and hyper, and just a big kick in the pants to be honest. They slow down temporarily to pound out some synchronized guitar and drum notes before seamlessly going back to the starting pace before the end of the song. I see ‘Displaced’ as a stop-gap before the band gets their second wind to move toward the end of the album, with simple chords and vocals and nothing more really. ‘Live // Live’ is hyper and dirty in the best sense, and ‘Nothing’ continues on from the previous track, using the same approach of a repetitive pattern to end this collection of tracks on the right note.
The song lengths work as short bursts, with no track going to the four minute mark. The result is not even a half hour of music with eleven songs. This album was recorded in only four days, which is totally believable considering the shortness of the end product, and also in the sense of the energy and vibe of the music being made to be a punch in the gut in a lot of ways. The vocals, while gruff and abrasive are understandable, and in hardcore a lot of times it’s hard to define the words shouted into the mic, so I appreciate this aspect of the vocal onslaught.
There’s a definite catchy and abrasive presence about this album. What sets this band apart from the pack is that they don’t rely on a certain blueprint, but instead they venture off the usual path and give us some interesting moments not conducive to a lot of stricter sounding hardcore in general. I like this album a lot more every time I hear it, and the album length works perfect with the material as I feel expanding too much on this sound would be a bit of a detriment to what they’re trying to accomplish.