Friday, February 22, 2013

Review of "Reach Beyond the Sun" by Shai Hulud

Buy this album

1. The Mean Spirits, Breathing
2. I, Saturnine
3. Reach Beyond the Sun
4. A Human Failing
5. Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With the Pain of Living
6. Medicine to the Dead
7. To Suffer Fools
8. Think the Adder Benign
9. Monumental Graves
10. If a Mountain Be My Obstacle
11. At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism

Reach Beyond the Sun, the fourth entry in Shai Hulud's storied catalog, will see its release in February of 2013. The album was produced by current New Found Glory guitarist, Chad Gilbert, and notably, vocalist on Hulud's debut LP Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion. In addition to producing, Gilbert also returned to sing on the album - his first offering of recorded vocals with the band in over a decade. Not unlike Shai Hulud's previous releases, Reach Beyond the Sun was born of several years of toiling before ever entering a studio. The band's previous effort, Misanthropy Pure, a polished, metallic and frenzied piece of masterwork, is contrasted by the much more visceral, instinctively compositional songs found on Reach Beyond the Sun, an embracement of the raw Hardcore/Punk elements that sit at the cornerstone of the band's influences. Longtime bass player Mad Matt Fletcher asserts, "Anyone who really knows the band will agree this album is our definitive sound, encompassing all of our different influences and styles." He conclusively reiterates, "Yep, this sounds like Shai Hulud."

"Shai Hulud comes from the isolated corner of hardcore where a screaming voice has meaning and purpose. (Their) lyrics empower and inspire. A gift of perspective, if not of true insight." - Nick Pierce / Shai Hulud fan

Lyrically, Shai Hulud continues to evoke deeper thought, and a range of true human emotions practically unique to the band as the modern underground often shies away from depth for fear of the vulnerability of inner exposure. Shai Hulud affirms "True strength is inviolate" in the song "Monumental Graves," and introspectively queries "Is ours, indeed, a sunless path to waiting graves we prepare for ourselves?" and "Will we bring our hearts back to life?" in the songs "I, Saturnine" and "A Human Failing," respectively, boldly turning their insides out. Regarding "A Human Failing," a song about a generation willing to turn numb in lieu of a life of pain and feeling, guitar player Matt Fox comments "It's become 'cool' to be cold. No pun intended." In the interest of challenging misinterpreted notions of pessimism, the song "Think The Adder Benign" professes "No, I do not believe roses only bloom just to conceal the thorns. I merely accept the thorn pricked finger bleeds" while "To Suffer Fools" maintains the band's active frustration and misanthropy, a trait by which Shai Hulud are notorious: "Pour the salts of acumen straight into the eyes to recondition the mind."

In recording Reach Beyond the Sun, Shai Hulud welcomed the vocal talents of accomplished friends from throughout the hardcore community. Fans will note guest vocals from: Jay Pepito (Reign Supreme, Blacklisted) on "A Human Failing, John Vigil (The Ghost Inside) on "If A Mountain be My Obstacle," Louis Hernandez (Alpha & Omega) on "Man Into Demon," all officially recorded former Hulud vocalists Matt Mazalli, Damien Moyal, and Geert van der Velde on "Medicine to the Dead," as well as additional vocals throughout the album from the likes of Justin Krauss (With Life In Mind), Martin Stewart (Donnybrook, Terror), David Wood (Down To Nothing, Terror), among others."

Since the release of Misanthropy Pure in 2008, Shai Hulud has toured Europe, Southeast Asia, Canada, the US, and Mexico. Most recently, the band appeared at the Revelation Records 25th Anniversary shows, both in LA and New York. Plans are already beginning to unfold for 2013, beginning with Shai Hulud's trek to Australia for the first time as part of Soundwave 2013, which also features Metallica, Blink 182, The Offspring, Slayer, and many more. More plans are beginning to unfold in support of Reach Beyond the Sun, which will invariably see Hulud performing in front of more fans, new and old, than ever before.

Within Reach Beyond The Sun is found the glimmer of hope emerging as a keen perception of reality on a gridlocked battleground of grim pessimism versus unthinking optimism - a conflicting array of swirling thoughts and depth of emotion, honestly illustrating and defining the beauty and tragedy of the human experience. To the backdrop of progressive, metallic Hardcore/Punk, Shai Hulud is thinking and expressing in perpetual forward motion.

Onward and upward. Always. Forever.

The album starts with the very fast paced punk infused hardcore stylings of the first track, “The Mean Spirits, Breathing.” Bringing everything I enjoy about the hardcore genre, with mellow pieces thrown in for good measure, hopefully this is what the whole album sounds like. The second track, “I, Saturnine,” has a really slow melodic groove to it, but it was complimented with the sludgy sounding riffs. The tracks are a little short on this album, I kind of wish they were longer. The first riff on the album title track, “Reach Beyond the Sun,” sounded a little chilling which was awesome and the harmonized parts and the bits surrounding them were nice. It was a great melodic track but did not give up on keeping a heavy feel. “A Human Failing” has a great mix of mellow and heavy riffs, but is definitely a more mellowed out track.

The next track has the longest I have heard in a while which is called “Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With the Pain of Living.” The riffs on this track are very catchy in their delivery, with some nice chugging bits as well. Also the guitars don’t know if they want to be happy and melodic or heavy and evil, which is creates a nice combination. A really fast paced track comes next in the form of “Medicine to the Dead” with some mellow parts as well, but overall it’s a pretty moshtastic track. There is a great slow break near the end with some great screams and melodic riffs to accompany them. “To Suffer Fools” sounded so black metal, I was even sure if I was listening to the same band, which made this a great listen for me anyway. I really liked it and it definitely has to be one of my favourites. Another heavy yet melodic track follows with “Think the Adder Benign.” Some of the riffs felt a little repetitive but they aren’t too bad.

“Monumental Graves” had some very catchy riffs and the mellow breaks were nice as well with the sludge that turned into some even dirtier riffage. The melodic riff which concluded on a chug in the next track “If a Mountain Be My Obstacle” was very badass sounding. It is definitely a great track for guitar as they are very heavy and grimy feeling. Bringing a great fast paced melodic track to finish off the album is “
At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism”. It also has some heavy parts as well, and was a nice way to finish the album.

Shai Hulud really surprised me as they brought to the table all the aspects I like about the hardcore genre. Bringing melodic, yet heavy, riffs from Matt Fox and Matt Fletcher as well as a unique vocal style coming from Chad Gilbert, this band has a super tight sound. The only thing missing in my opinion is some breakdowns. My opinion really doesn’t matter though because that’d be changing the bands overall sound. These guys are excellent and are worth a listen.

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