There is a full tank of positives you can place upon hardcore punk metallers Shai Hulud but the richest element they have is their passion, the fuel to their songwriting, creativity, and performance. It has always driven their sound and set the band above most similarly gaited bands, the furnace which fires and defines their distinctive and provocative confrontations. Returning after five years with new and fourth album Reach Beyond the Sun, the band and sound has lost none of its intensity, in fact it sees the band even more confronting and ferocious than ever. Released via Metal Blade Records, the album sees the band brewing their recognised sound into another raw and abrasively inciting tempest. It is less metal lined than previous release Misanthropy Pure and arguably a step back to earlier releases in sculpted intent but a storm from the band which is better than ever.
Reach Beyond the Sun is produced by New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert who was the vocalist upon Shai Hulud’s 1997 debut album Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion. He also performs vocal duties upon the new album bringing extra fire and visceral angst to the riveting release matching the imposing hardcore punk venomous sound. The album also features guest vocals from the likes of Jay Pepito (Reign Supreme, Blacklisted), John Vigil (The Ghost Inside), and Louis Hernandez (Alpha & Omega) among many, as well as former Hulud vocalists Matt Mazalli, Damien Moyal, and Geert van der Velde, all on the track Medicine to the Dead. Lyrically the band evokes and incites emotions as powerfully as ever, inviting and challenging the listener to delve deeper into feelings and thoughts personally and in regard to society and the world. Sonically and verbally the release scorches the senses and emotions to provide a canvas and aural caustic paint box to picture the scourge and wonder that is the human condition.
The release immediately and potently squalls within the ear with opener The Mean Spirits, Breathing, the vocals of Gilbert coursing through the senses with fire in their blood to match the scything rhythms of drummer Matt Covey and scarring sonic riffing from guitarist Matt Fox, all stalked and matched by bassist Matt Fletcher. With a melodic acid as rich and vigorously fruitful as the aggressive changeable stance of the song, the track is a powerful blaze of inventive and direct confrontation which energises and intimidates with impressive force.
I, Saturnine with its corrosive breath and anthemic animosity and the irresistible title track both continue the impressive start to the release, the second of the pair one of the biggest pinnacles of the release. Through its heart driven intensity and intriguing shifts of energy and pace there is a torrential rain of sonic punk confrontation in sound and word which ignites deep inside. Through the likes of the towering A Human Failing, a track which stares you straight in the eyes and demands attention and thought, and the sensational Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With the Pain of Living the band just enrich and devour the senses and emotions further and deeper. The latter of the pair is a delicious unpredictable maelstrom of anger, imagination, and intensity which shifts its pose and structure relentlessly to simply magnetise and thrill.
The already impressive album gives its biggest triumph in the stunning To Suffer Fools, a brawl of punk, hardcore, and antagonism sculpted into a virulent contagion of malevolent sonics and breath-taking ingenuity which infests, infects, and seduces the passions. The track is the band at its most powerful with energy to splinter bone, a spite to wither defences, and a skilled prowess from all to leave most other bands inventively and inspirationally in their wake.
With songs like Monumental Graves and At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism leaving further elevated heights within the outstanding Reach Beyond the Sun, Shai Hulud show no let-up in their ability to inspire and set bench marks for other hardcore/metalcore bands to aspire to.
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