If you missed out on their impressive self-titled debut EP released almost a year ago to the day, UK metallers Hacktivist give you another chance to grab and explore its triumphant thrills with its re-release via Wake To Reality. Containing an additional four bonus tracks to the five which ripped attention forcibly in their direction, the Buckinghamshire reassert the promise and scintillating invention forged in their long sold out first CD and deleted digital format. Re-mastering the original songs whilst recruiting their latest single and unreleased tracks into the EP’s line-up, Hacktivist reminds fans of their dynamic presence and future whilst surely recruiting a new legion of fans to their exhilarating blend of metal, djent, grime, and hip hop.
Formed in 2011 by guitarist/vocalist/producer Timfy James (ex- Heart of a Coward) and rapper J Hurley, Hacktivist took little time in gripping the intrigue and imagination of fans with the release of Cold Shoulders in the January of the following year via YouTube, its entrance gaining over 100,000 views in its first week. From there the band continued their striking emergence by igniting stages at home and in Europe with their exhausting performances, shows which has seen them alongside Enter Shikari and appearing on the Warped Tour Europe and Warped Tour UK. The first appearance of the EP took the band up another stride into acclaim and recognition in 2012 whilst new single Elevate earlier this year as well as a full UK tour supporting Enter Shikari ignited another wealth of attentive passion from media, radio, and fans alike. Appearances at the likes of Download, Reading /Leeds, T in the Park, Rock Am Ring, and Sonisphere France this year has equally pushed the stature of Hacktivist to new levels which the re-release of EP+ can only feed and accelerate.
The EP opens with the provocative call of New Age, its opening potent breath brewed into a thick and evocative atmosphere of sound and intent veined with stalking rhythms and the immediate irresistible lure of the vocal tempting of Hurley and Ben Marvin, James also lurking with and adding his tones across the release. A staggered rhythmic fury from drummer Rich Hawking proceeds to assassinate the air and provoke the senses as it fuels the absorbing verging on debilitating djent craft of James skirted by the predatory antagonism conjured by the bass of Josh Gurner. Barely two minutes in length the track sets up the EP and introduction to the band perfectly, the riveting assault sparking an immediate appetite soon wrapped in hunger as the song’s successor uncages its might.
Unlike Us equally takes little time in persuading a total submission to its creative narrative, its initial restrained yet busy tempestuous mix of riffs and spicy grooves punctuated by a rhythmic web and the excellent throaty bass lines of Gurner. The track snarls and seduces in equal measure, the dark rabid elements of the track aligned to a sonic elegance and temptation which toys with thoughts and emotions. Merging radiant melodic ambience and lures with a rapacious aggressiveness, the track has the intensive growl of The Browning, the vocal infectiousness of Hadouken, and the belligerent confrontation of early Senser. It is a striking and wholly captivating adventure thrusting the release up another level of quality and persuasion.
Both Blades and Hacktivist continue the immense coaxing and presence of the release, both tracks magnetic and imaginative. The first retains the crippling prowling gait of its predecessor but layers a glorious sweeping clean vocal across its sinewy shoulders before providing the bands distinctive and pleasing hip hop inspired vocal confrontation. The song ebbs and flows in its challenging ingenuity, always ensuring unpredictability and enthralling adventure is leading its predation and skilled invention firing up the listeners greed for more. Its successor twists and turns from its first seconds, lurching powerfully through the ears with the same almost violent enterprise sculpted by guitars, bass, and drums. Rigorously anthemic in a deceptive way and potently tempting through its sonic tantalising and melodic richness the song washes the senses in a breath-taking passage of ingenuity and imaginative exploration, and taking this song as an example it is easy to offer bands as references for certain moments and twists delivered but there is no-one which creates and presents sounds close to those of Hacktivist.
Cold Shoulders brings another slice of diversity to the EP, its atmospheric dawning through colour rich keys an ever presence evocative coaxing whether alone or whilst underlying the severe and animalistic intensity coating the crippling rhythms and bestial riffing. There is also an element of rapcore to the song, an added spice bringing a Hollywood Undead essence to certainly the vocals, and though the song is arguably the weakest on the EP you can easily see why it lured in a fever soaked fanbase for Hacktivist. The following Elevate makes a play for the best track on the release whilst showing the evolving exploration and strength of the band’s songwriting. Its muscular frame is a cage for excellent expressive invention which itself spawns transfixing melodic and sonic bait around the ever impressive vocals and the stringent crescendos of aggressive combat. Showing the genre pushing and crossing depths of the songwriting there is also a punk/hardcore breath within the creative maelstrom which pricks thoughts of band like Lazy Habits and the Janice Graham Band and adds extra temptation.
The release is completed by the more than Shikari Sound System Remix of Elevate, though the original easy steals its glory, the Ndread Mud Remix of Unlike Us, and a great live version of Blades, the track easily showing why the band has a formidable live reputation and why all should go see them given the chance.
The re-release of EP+ easily confirms that Hacktivist is one of Europe’s most exciting and dramatically promising metal bands, a force which brings a burning spark of originality and excitement to an array of styles. The band has given all a second chance to experience the beginning of their certain ascent, an opportunity not to be missed this time.
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