Released: 2006, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
With the metalcore market having reached its apex (read: flood), it becomes difficult to rise above the glut of bands currently releasing albums. Along with As I Lay Dying, Seattle’s Himsa was one of the first to fully embrace this genre but Himsa’s music contains a little more edge—much like The Black Dahlia Murder and Lamb of God—making it difficult to lump in with the hardcore constituents. 2003’s COURTING TRAGEDY AND DISASTER put Himsa on the map and while taking a step further into the metal direction than its predecessor, HAIL HORROR is a slab of unabashedly heavy songs, delivered with enough hate and bile that one cannot help but take notice once again. The drums are like a load of concrete blocks falling upon you, the guitar solos are executed flawlessly and the production on this CD is one for the books, thanks to Danish knob-twiddler extraordinaire, Tue Madsen. HAIL HORROR sets a new benchmark, not only for American metal heaviness but crushing musicianship, as well.
The low-end rumble of “Anathema” created by bassist Derek Harn and skin-basher Chad Davis set the groundwork for the blistering opener. John Pettibone’s pissed-off growling roar is nothing out of the ordinary for today’s metal scene, but his bark is a clear fit for the band’s sound. “Sleezevil” features a snappy, melody-driven groove set into motion by the twin guitars of Sammi Curr and Kirby Johnson. Likewise, the Slayer-like diving solo of “The Destroyer” is pure heaven (Hell?!?) and when the band unleashes a massive breakdown, it feels as if the walls are about to cave in. The interplay between Curr and Johnson at the opening of “Pestilence” will have fans of Swedish six-string salivating. On the flipside, the slow-building chord progression at the intro to “Wither” lets the listener’s guard down only to be pummeled by the fast and tight thrash riffing in the verses and a smoking solo. If the guitars don’t make your ears bleed, the pulverizing drumming will leave bruises and a fat lip in their wake but the final blow is dealt by the skull-crushing breakdown that begins at 4:40 and the thrashy conclusion. Mixing the intensity with a more melodic approach a la God Forbid/Shadows Fall, “Seminal” travels the road of Arch Enemy/In Flames-influenced melodic death and the tandem riffing on “They Speak In Swarms” could be lifted from any of the early Gothenburg releases.
If the bands who fall under the banner of “The New Wave of American Heavy Metal” have delivered anything better, I challenge the music on HAIL HORROR to stand up to it. This album simply levels everything in its path and not through originality (yes, this has all been done before), but through outright heaviness. The more overt hardcore elements from Himsa’s last release have been replaced with greater focus upon Swedish guitar influences and the resemblance to mid-period In Flames, Arch Enemy, et al is obvious. While Himsa may have lost a few hardcore fans with HAIL HORROR, the steps taken toward metal territory will bring in many more hungry for a slice of what they have to offer.
KILLER KUTS: “Anathema,” “Sleezevil,” “The Destroyer,” “Pestilence,” “Wither,” “Seminal”