Chicago metalers Harpoon have already garnered strong and high praise with their 2009 debut full length album Double Gnarly /Triple Suicide and the split releases with noise/drone/metal duo, Locrian (2009) and The Muzzler (2010), but with their new release Deception Among Birds the band have moved forward into levels that are staggering and glorious. The album to be released October 25th via Seventh Rule Recordings is a monument to creativity and thoughtful songwriting, as well as an instinctive beast of power, intensity and melodic meanderings. It challenges, leaves a striking mark, and firmly pleasures the senses in equal measure.
The trio of Toney Vast-Binder (vocals), D.J. Barraca (bass), and Dean Costello (guitar, drum programming) have combined to unleash eight tracks of fearsome power and imaginative ingenuity. Crossing through grindcore, hardcore, punk and numerous other spices, Deception Among Birds is a potent and rampant collision on the senses, hitting directly with the intent of shaking up the safety and security of the listener. Engineered by Andy Nelson, who also did their debut album, Deception Among Birds is a maelstrom of ideas and sounds careering around the ears with wanton eagerness and determination to bring something new and distinct.
The album opens in the same way it ends, with controlled chaos. The blistering opener ‘To The Tall Trees‘ and the senses tripping discordant closer ‘Deception Among Birds‘ both challenge and stretch the boundaries of instant appeal whilst at the same time bringing the strongest essence of addiction within their journeys. Though the two tracks have a similar testing composition the closing song is a sure footed piece of disruptions and diversions blending in many tastes and edges within a forceful intensity and melodic spine. The opener in contrast has a more ordered direction. Starting on a sure hardcore base it soon whirls through varied imposing flavours and wells of sound. With an ascending consumption it reaches a plateau of ominous calm before reaching an eventual atmospheric and beckoning intolerance.
Each track on Deception Among Birds is a remarkable and welcome interloper on the senses, from the semi drone of the harsh and melodic ‘Prequel To A Lifetime Of Disappointment’, through the stalking predatory rampage of ‘Phlegm‘ a track that ebbs and flows in attack without losing a decibel of threatening intensity, to the immense instinctively primal heights of ‘Troglodyte’s Delight’, the album pummels and bashes the pleasure receptors wonderfully. The more the album is played the more the deeper delights reveal themselves which increases the enjoyment each time, the wealth of engaging and formidable elements unveiled for great satisfaction.
Two tracks stand out amongst the array of great songs with an even greater vibrancy to tease and feast on any addictive tendencies. ‘The Cut Of His Jib‘ is a battering burst of licks and incessant riffs with an attack to fire up any hardcore or punk heart. It drives directly and venomously with great static melodic vocals alongside frantic shouts and growls. The other song is ‘Shit Wizard‘, another hardcore/punk flavoured display with a strolling grind groove as a spine. The song is like a lure on a hook and has to be the one to entice the most newcomers to this impressive album.
Deception Among Birds is exceptional and refreshing amidst an abundance of what admittedly have been some great releases this year. This album though has something extra that is not exactly easy to define but there is a sense and air of innovation and freshness to it not heard often elsewhere. From Vast-Binder’s vocals, the impressive and manipulating guitars of Costello, to the bold and dark bass lines of Barraca, the trio have made a release that makes ‘essential listening’ a term tinged with underestimation. Harpoon is back and music has gone up a level.