Formed in 2013, French metallers Hampered have just uncaged their debut album and one attention grabbing beast it is. Maybe not the most unique in sound Asylum more than makes up for any familiarity with creative imagination and suggestive drama, attributes blossoming into one richly alluring and enjoyable proposal.
The Toulon quintet consists of vocalist Germinal “Germi” Leullier, guitarists Romain Sanchez and Guillaume Frendo, bassist Fares “Fafa” Petit, and drummer Stephane “Stef” Kokot, though upon Asylum Satanus is listed as swinging the rhythmic sticks. Nurtured in metalcore, their sound embraces an array of other flavours and metal bred textures in its roar and a first full length which takes a firm hold from its first breath.
Asylum is inspired by movies such as One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Shutter Island and relating a complex tale of a disillusioned hero finding himself plunged into the den of a psychiatric hospital, looking at “the grip of man by man, the mind on the body, for the conscience of our own freedom” where “the only “barriers” are the choices we make that make us believe we don’t have any”
Opening with its French language spoken, scene setting Intro, the album soon has ears and appetite aroused as the following I’m Alive teases both with its opening initial sonic lure; rich bait soon spawning a rousing incitement of richly enticing grooves and rhythmic predation. Germi is soon in its midst with his similarly potent growls, captivation brewing by the second. The track mellows a touch as a great blend of his and Frendo’s calmer backing vocals collude but still retains its threatening character in sound and tone. Every hook and groove intensified the power and addictiveness of the track, each rhythmic swipe and grumble increasing its sonic paranoia superbly.
The excellent start only continues as The Project follows, its electronically hued entrance easily stirring keen attention before opening up into a rapacious almost carnivorous prowl. Metalcore meets groove metal as things intensify, many more strains of sound adding to the menace and imagination seizing trespass. Something akin to a fusion of Poison The Well, As I Lay Dying and Devildriver, the track gnaws and increasingly pleasures the senses, a success only escalating as the funkier throes of In My Jail tease and invade next. A beguiling web of styles and flavours, the track alone reveals the bold invention at the heart of Hampered and the expansive hunger in their sound which does not always get the chance to blossom as it might across the release. Here it is in full bloom, plaintive vocals and hungry sounds uniting in a ravenous assault of irritable yet severely infectious and predatory enterprise.
Stop That follows with a raw and cantankerous proposal but one just as adept at embracing melodic and harmonic twists as it questions and challenges while successor Conspiracy Theory launches a similarly choleric confrontation infused with citric melodic veins and driven by rhythmic rock ‘n’ roll. Both tracks hit the spot, the second especially sparking tenacious responses as the album continued to impress.
Through the bullish defiance of Each Other, where grooves just infest the psyche, and the raw emotional blaze of Avenge Your Memory, Hampered continue to explore their invention. Neither song quite matched the potency of those before them yet each created a tapestry of lyrical and musical drama which firmly held attention and richly satisfied before Blast (Bridge Refrain) entangled some tinges of heavy metal and strains of Avenged Sevenfold-esque catchiness into its lively swing. Again personal tastes were not quite as ignited as by the albums earlier tracks but were thickly involved in satisfaction from start to finish and especially in its great bedlamic finale.
Asylum concludes with The End, a track featuring Maxime Keller, vocalist with fellow countrymen Smash Hit Combo and Boars. The track is superb, a jungle of metal bred punk infused antagonism with tantalising melodic scenery bringing the album to a mighty close matching its tremendous start.
Asylum is a proposition which will inflame the passions of many and lure the attention of hordes more as it announces Hampered as another very promising and already rather striking proposition on the metal landscape.
Asylum is out now @ http://hampered.bigcartel.com/
Pete RingMaster 21/03/2018
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