As primal and consuming as any physical grudge the earth expels, the sound of Welsh fury Hogslayer is an inescapable savaging but equally a predatory incitement which sparks only a greedy appetite for more. Certainly that is the success found in the band’s first album, and taken to new heights in their new and second full-length Defacer. The release is a brutal monolithic tide of sludge rich, tar thick sonic malevolence, a proposition as oppressively destructive as it is perversely invigorating and ultimately fiercely compelling.
The Cardiff quintet first emerged in 2012, rising from the ashes of Shaped By Fate and Zonderhoof. Instantly there was no mercy given by their crawling toxic blend of sludge, doom, and every rabid essence of noise to be found, a heavily persuasive confrontation evidenced by the band’s 2013 self-titled debut album. Now they have intensified every aspect of sound and emotional turbulence within their invention to create and unleash Defacer, as magnetic a violation as you are likely to meet this year.
The first trespass of senses and psyche comes with Slowhawk, a raw vocal rant from Lord Bastard the trigger to a tsunami of bestial bass predation and equally vicious guitar stalking, it all punctuated by the slow uncompromising swings of drummer Max Von Beek. The creeping groove of the assault is as immediate in its lure too, the primitive growls of bass cast by Grym Av Skugga and Damek Ômsk irresistible intimidation loaded with an instinctively seductive swagger. The guitar of Barron Drakk provides its own incendiary tempting to add to the mix, entwining the dark imposing incitement alongside with a mix of caustic riffs and piercingly spicy hooks. The track is an unrelenting mass of uncompromising contagion; raw rock ‘n’ roll at its hellacious best setting the album off to a mighty start.
The album’s following title track reveals an even more barbarous presence and intent from its first few breaths, riffs and grooves almost Neanderthal in tone yet quickly showing they are prepared to twist in infectious enterprise and sonic unpredictability too as they potently colour the almost hypnotic repetitious core of the song. Throat scarring vocals spill furiously from the front man, providing a potent abrasion from within the smothering web of sound and hostility around him. Once again an addictive essence is at large before the ruinous presence of the song makes way for the similarly intensive and vehement Wülfbaanger. Its body of central riffs and rhythmic prowling is not far removed from that of its predecessor, a comment which can be raised across the album as a minor niggle with some grooves and heavy riffery often showing a lack of distinction from others though it is usually compensated by the sonic invention and unpredictable adventure also revealed, if at times understated.
Bludgeon is as its name implies a heavy-duty and antagonistic confrontation of noise and energy as viscous and black hearted as it is groove catchy whilst next up Burn Them Out sets down another pinnacle to match the opening pair. It is sonically fairer than previous songs but still offering a syrupy toxicity through the senses lapping grooves. It is the hardcore essences though which rage within vocals and the twisted imagination of the guitars that gives something extra to take a great song to the plateau of major incitement. Rhythmically too there is a fresh impetus, an anthemic quality to Von Beek’s enterprise courting grooves and hooks which flirt back with fiery stoner-esque hues. The track is still as inhospitable as anything else upon Defacer but tapping into an open diversity which is not always as keen as elsewhere.
The truculent Warcries is as gladiatorial as you would imagine but within its argumentative brawl of sound and intent, Hogslayer explore an out of the blue and thrilling melodic detour which only adds to and emphasises the overall intensity and impact of the song. Once more bolder imagination and invention is freed to impressive results and without defusing the weight and force of sound around it.
Bastards Of Reality comes next, its doom fuelled carriage of malicious sound and emotion taking the listener into dark, suffocating, and cavernous depths where more striking and riveting strands of sonic endeavour lights up ears and imagination. For seven minutes the track excites as it roams and infests the senses, spilling sonic venom and grievous animosity musically and emotionally, before being emulated in length and impact by This Spiteful Cycle. The new song is simultaneously tortuous and deliciously hypnotic, though its addictive character allows no chance of an easy ride. A favourite element of the band’s sound is the entangled hostility and creativity of guitar and bass, both ripe with their volatile natures, and arguably they are at their most psychotic in the closing song driven on by ever merciless drum provocation. Probably the most testing listen on the album it is a richly satisfying final challenge, though not the last song as there is the hidden bonus of Mealworm for the patient to enjoy, an outstanding slab of psychotic sludge bred, senses corroding rock ‘n’ roll.
Hogslayer has risen to a new level and stature with Despiser, but with the potential for even bigger, fiercer things ahead you feel. The album is excellent but with room for its ideas to be taken further meaning pleasure is rich now but excitement for the future easily as potent.
Despiser is available now via Undergroove Records on CD @ http://undergroove.bigcartel.com/product/hogslayer-defacer-cd and digitally at most online stores.
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