Released recently, Playmore, the new album from French rap metallers Smash Hit Combo, is a proposition loaded with familiar elements and a rugged character which seemingly wears its influences openly, yet from this breeds something enjoyably fresh and certainly fiercely rousing. It storms the senses like some recognisable tempest generating an easy persuasion without prominently feeding expectations and carries a crossover roar of sound which reminds of many, yet twists it into something that, if not majorly unique, has the Smash Hit Combo hallmark.
The Cernay hailing sextet began in 2004 with the varied background and tastes of its members creating a mesh of rap, hip-hop, and thrash lined metal. Early demo Next Level was unveiled the following year before debut album Hardcore Gamer was released in 2007, an encounter awakening stronger attention and praise from fans. Two years later its successor Nolife emerged to stronger acclaim of fans and media; the release showing a more mature and varied colour to their music which continued to grow and move on through full-lengths Loading and Reset of 2010 and 2012 respectively. Playmore shows another evolution with darker metal tones aligned to jagged djent enterprise and nu metal devilment, it all colluding with the band’s rapcore heart. As suggested it brings a familiar aspect to its body through this union of styles yet makes an invigorating proposal for ears and appetite from start to finish.
Playmore opens with In Game, electro hints within a sonic mist lacing ears before the song erupts in a tenacious shuffle of biting riffs, swirling acidic guitar, and imposing rhythms, all driven by the dual vocal raps of Paul Vuillequez and Maxime Keller. As the music, the pair’s delivery shifts and turns with clean vocals additionally fuelling the warm chorus whilst subsequently gaining greater ferocity and aggression in their lyrical spits. It is a thoroughly engaging and bracing mix which continues to leap around snarling and alluring before Sous pression takes over with an initially similar regime but is quickly uncaging its own melodic and predatory mix. It does not quite have the impact of the first song yet with the guitars of Baptiste Ory and Anthony Chognard spinning an engagingly textured web made up of melodic soars of enterprise and carnivorous growls aimed at the senses, it is a perpetually enthralling offering again as impressive in its vocals and harmonies as it is in tempestuous sound.
Baka hits a major high spot for the album next; its climatic air and virulently twisted landscape complete with aggressive attitude, a bracing and throatily roaring terrain of cartilage grinding riffs and bone shuddering beats from drummer Hincker Brice. Like Meshuggah in a salacious fling with Beastie Boys and (Hed) P.E., the track is a bestial treat wrapped in sonic imagination with the bass of Matthieu Willer the most predacious element in the outstanding storm.
Both Quart de siècle and Time Attack thoroughly please, if not quite reaching the same peak as those before. The first is a melodically bred persuasion bringing thoughts of The Kennedy Soundtrack to the fore before corrupting its calm with volatile intensity then restarting the cycle over again. Its successor is a bruising seduction with an industrial like haunting to its relatively peaceful atmosphere and tortuous angst through to its primal expulsions of sound and emotion, and like its predecessor, fully captivating with new nuances revealed in every listen.
The brief melancholic and electronically sinister instrumental of B3t4 warms the imagination for the crunching touch and stark landscape of Animal nocturne, the song another ripe with volatility in its presence and heart. In certain moments it stalks the senses and in others has the psyche embroiled in a maelstrom of melodic expression and deranged djent seeded animosity, rhythms and bass enhancing the mix with their fluid swings from antagonism to gentle temptation.
An opening melodic cast serenade opens up Déphasé straight after, its opening lure soon over run by intense emotion and ravenous sound but continuing to lay its highly persuasive colours throughout the raw and oasis like calm of the excellent voracity of noise and creative attitude. Its triumph is quickly matched and then ferociously surpassed by the hellacious turmoil of Le vrai du faux, the song a furnace of scuzzy guitar, waspish grooves and barbarous rhythms, again guided by just as varied and impassioned vocals. Flirting with some Limp Bizkit contagion as it gets more ferocious, musically savage, and enterprising, the track plants another big favourite moment in the body of Playmore.
It is a pinnacle closely repeated by the technically bedlamic and compelling Irréversible, where again elegant calm and ravishing hostility in sound and energy collide in a skilled and constantly evolving union. Arguably the most involved and boldest song on the album and one of its most enjoyably fascinating, it blisters flesh and withers the senses whilst equally exciting the imagination and seizing the passions; it another best track candidate with increasing persuasion with every involvement between ears and band.
Playmore is concluded by 48H, a partly English sung offering vibrantly merging sparkling harmonies and vocal prowess with an undulating atmosphere of raw emotion and reassuring calm. It is a great end to an increasingly enjoyable release. Many tracks share closely matching tones and templates and as suggested before, each comes with sounds you can easily imagine inspirations of, but most importantly the album just holds attention and thick satisfaction in its hand from first to last note. Smash Hit Combo deserves broader spotlights and Playmore just might be the key.
Playmore is available now via Slam Disques from online stores and at the band’s Bigcartel store.
Pete RingMaster 17/09/2015
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