Hacktivist – Outside The Box

Photography and editing by Perry Westphal

Photography and editing by Perry Westphal

It has been a fair time in the coming but the highly anticipated debut Hacktivist album is finally about to be uncaged. It is a rage living up to the heights and promise of the UK band‘s previous self-titled EP whilst pushing further the band‘s imaginative distinct fusion of nu/alternative /progressive metal with extreme and electronic textures aligned to rap/hip hop fuelled incitement. In some ways it is not bold enough in its exploration and creative drama. Occasionally there is the feeling that the band missed opportunities to create a landmark proposition, but truthfully from start to finish Outside The Box leaves an already established appetite for their sound more than thickly satisfied.

Emerging in 2011, it is fair to say that the Milton Keynes quintet has been leaving deep marks on the British metal/rock landscape whether through their ravenous live presence or that aforementioned EP and surrounding singles. They have been devoured by fans and media alike even with a sound naturally which is going to make as many enemies as long term friends such its unconventional and unpredictable character. Festivals have equally have embraced the band, and Hacktivist them by lighting up the likes of Reading, Leeds, Sonisphere, Rock Am Ring, and Rock Im Park these past years. So as suggested, Outside The Box has bred plenty of intrigue and expectations in the wait for its eventful arrival, a pressure it more than deals with, if without quite realising its own potential at times.

The album opens with Our Time; a track featuring Marlon Hurley which lays out a dystopian atmosphere as an emotive climate springs from keys and spoken vocals before the muscular weight and intensity of the band bears down on the senses and imagination. It is a stalking rather than an assault but with djent spicing to its teeth, the track is a waking up of attention for the following tempest of Hate. An electronic coaxing entices ears initially, though its touch is as sinister as it is magnetic, especially once the subsequently duelling and colluding vocal rapacity of J Hurley and Ben Marvin steer the descending storm. Like a cantankerous cousin to The Kennedy Soundtrack, the track lures and berates the senses; eventually unleashing its full animus with intrusive grooves from Timfy James and predatory rhythms spawned in the creative venom of bassist Josh Gurner and drummer Rich Hawking.

art_RingMasterReviewThe track is a gripping affair followed by Deceive & Defy. It is the first in a trio of re-recorded older tracks amongst eight new provocations, and features Jamie Graham from Heart Of A Coward as guest vocalist. With ambience soaked smog around a rapped narrative, the song’s entrance is restrained yet dramatic, increasingly so as firmly swung beats and agitated riffs build towards an open almost carnal hostility of sound and tone. The track swiftly and increasingly pleases yet it is one which maybe holds back and never quite delivers the raw intensity and explosive adventure hinted at and expected.

It is something Taken certainly offers; its snaky steel lined tendrils of guitar and combative mix of melodic, raw, and spat vocals firing up the passions for antagonistic confrontation alone. The band builds on that with imaginative slips into harmonious vocals and warm melodies shared by James, moments which surprise and reveal the blossoming invention of the band’s songwriting. With Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari guesting, the song leaves ears and thoughts eagerly involved as does the instrumental, The Storm. It is an evocative moment in time reflecting the physical and emotional aspect of its name, time giving the listener time to regroup before No Way Back launches its dissension. With a scent of Heart of a Coward and Monuments to it, the track badgers and tears into the senses with its jagged stabs of guitars and barbarous rhythms, soothing the wounds with the sighing caress of keys whilst a triple threat of vocals keeps ears consumed and eager to embrace the volatile textures being blended.

A re-working of False Idols comes next, the song moving from an opening romancing to a mountain of groaning rhythms and gnarly riffs bound in viperish grooves. The track certainly pleases without making a big stir in its opening moments but as each passing minute uncages more creative and intimidating adventure, the song blossoms to impress in a way fresh to its original version, even though the differences are not as dramatic as they might have been. The track is a standard bearer all the same but eclipsed by Rotten which sees Astroid Boys and Jot Maxi involved. Weaving essences reminding of Tech N9ne and Twizted into a progressively atmospheric climate, the track simply seduces the imagination as it provides a new strain of invention and diversity to the album.

Elevate has been re-tuned for its place within Outside The Box, given new sonic oil and vocal attitude as it builds build on its first outing in the band’s earlier EP. It is a dogfight for ears and a showdown for emotions as it attacks and stirs up a bedlam of carnivorous textures and electronic trespasses. Melodic and harmonic caresses add a great tempering but they never subdue the thrilling discord and friction of sound and voice.

Lyrically the band is as sharp and incisive as expected but at times they seem to carry a chip on their shoulder which does not lie quite as well as their more politically incited targets. It is something which can be said about the album’s title track where, even with the broadening investigation of its narrative, it captivates most potently in sound.

The album is brought to an exhilarating close by firstly the volcanic and bestial enterprise of Buszy, a deft entangling of contrasting textures in a maelstrom of ire and creative intensity, and lastly by The Storm II, a melodically elegant and sonically ravenous flight into uniting emotional resonance and turbulence. Both provide a climactic and impressing close to an album which itself is only striking.

Whether Outside The Box could have been even more impressive and impacting will surely be debated, our thought being that maybe it missed a trick or two knowing the invention and craft of the band. From start to finish though, it had ears and emotions enthralled and greedy for more; a success no one can turn their nose up at.

Outside The Box is released March 4th via UNFD / Rise Records through most online stores and @ http://www.hacktivist.uk.com/store/products/outside-the-box-cd-2/

http://www.hacktivist.uk.com   https://www.facebook.com/Hacktivistband

Pete RingMaster 03/03/2016

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Torpedo – Black Chronicles Vol.3

Having been previously impressed by the first two releases in the series the anticipation for Black Chronicles Vol.3 from Torpedo was keen upon news of its release. Once more bringing the dramatic instrumental sounds of Torpedo Beatz into a union with the rhyming and MC skills of varied rappers the release continues the impressive levels and inventive sounds as found on the first pair of instalments.

Serbian musician and composer Torpedo Beatz has a distinct almost cinematic style to his composing, his pieces bringing an often haunting and always enthralling feel and emotion to the songs. The new collection of tracks is no different, his music bursting with tension and magnetic melodic invention to compliment and explore the hard hitting expression of  emerging lyrical and rapping talents from around the world.

Some of the highlights of previous volumes of Black Chronicles has come with the pairing of the composer with the excellent and always powerful American rapper Wrath. The new album sees the track Requiem For A Sell Out repeat the team up and success with the featured addition of Maniak. Off of a slowly dawning opening with the words as belligerent and combative as you could wish, the duel vocal attack punches forth intent and strong views whilst the music wraps around them with a glowing and tight grip. With a slight Twizted feel to the piece Wrath and Torpedo still leave most in the shade when they combine.

Another impressive artist who is introduced on the album for the first time is Dark Guerrilla Chato and his Dark Guerrilla Chat crew. From Orange County, Southern California, they bring four powerful standout songs to the album. The first Wicked Violenze with a Halloween tinted horror sound pulsating behind the aggressive and angry attack is a strong first meet without lighting any flames of passion but it does not take the following Revenge, Dark Melody, and Barbarious long to hit the deepest spot. The first of the three immediately offers a growing menacing atmosphere from the music to encompass the malice spitting rapping and intimidation within every syllable. It like the first song from the crew is a notable entry without leaving deep scars but the remaining duo fix that aspect with sure intent. Dark Melody the best track on the whole album, bitch slaps the senses with concise and malicious rapping whilst the music scythes through the ear with dramatic breath and sonic borne melodies whilst Barbarious bruises with further hardcore lyrical directness and almost niggling melodic enterprise from Torpedo. Like the team up with Wrath this is a union one hopes to hear a lot more from in the future.

The three tracks with Lemmy MC, a crew from Rottenburg am Neckar in Germany, are a lighter affair than those with Dark Guerrilla Chat, though still with an abrasive attitude to leave a good antagonistic taste in the ear. Musically the songs Hard 2 Da Core, Horrorcrunk, and Battle Continue are shaped to the distinct rapping and vocal attack bringing a blackened carnival like feel, its air and energy dangerous and caustic. The tracks though not quite finding the strength of those already mentioned, leave one eager to hear more and fully satisfied.

The release is completed by Pali Andjeo with Serbian crew 2B4 Time who also featured on the previous volume of the series, and instrumental pieces from Torpedo which as always seem to light up parts of the senses and thoughts which most bands and artists fail to discover.  The 2B4 Time track is a slowly enveloping brew of distressed ambience veined with good vocals skills and imaginative sounds whilst the solo compositions could grace and soundtrack any dark hearted cinema treat or intensity driven emotion.

Continuing the established quality of previous releases, Black Chronicles Vol.3 is an excellent album which shows some of the best of the underground rap talent around the world alongside the inventive imagination of composer Torpedo. If you are looking for some fresh and different from rap and hip hop flavoured music than this album is an essential investigation.

Free download of Black Chronicles Vol. 3 @ http://www.trablmejker.com/emisije/35/2379

RingMaster 30/07/2012

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