‘Olm’ from Melbourne based ‘Hadal Maw’ is going to destroy. No gimmicks, no fads or trends at play here, this is heavy and rough, at times difficult to listen to for its uncompromising ferocity and bleakness. Hadal Maw have the attention deserving of a band who is about to blow up and this album will be the milestone.
‘Leviathan’ introduces the listener to a dark and brooding wash of feedback and tones accompanied by chugs and sporadic drumming. It’s a subtle foreshadowing of what’s to follow in track #2 ‘Affluenza’. Hadal Maw bridge between technical metal and some other kind of blackened death. At times the band pull back to a simplified chug-along part and moments before it becomes predictable, they’ll mix it up with a discordant lead line, chords with off notes and busy drum fills and kick patterns that keep it fresh. By the end of the bracket I feel like mentioning Gojira and Textures for their similarities and yet..Hadal Maw feel darker.
Vocally Sam has some similarities to Jens Kidman (Meshuggah) and that comparison can easily extant to the rest of the band. The rhythmic and dissonant elements they incorporate are just as ridiculous and masterfully executed. I appreciate that the guitars are tuned low enough to achieve that djent-sound but the band never roll with it, choosing instead to keep it open and dirty. It works. It works so good.
The title track ‘Olm’ (see video) has all the marking of a live favorite. The riff that brings it all in keeps a measure of rhythm that lasts all of about 15 seconds before it all goes out the window. The lead break that comes in at 1:30 min is just fantastic, feeling as awkward and off-note as any Frederic Thordenal lick would. The stop-start riff that peppers the ending (a call-back to the opening riff) is what’s going to set necks to break. The pit will explode when this drops.
The album seemingly grows stronger as it progresses, #7 ‘Simian Plague’ keeps the tension up and offers some busy/technical moments interspersed within some doomy and blackened metal. It’s a contrast that never feels forced, largely due to the drumming which will complement the busy guitar noodling with a blast-beat or some crazy fill to support it all and then pull the energy right back to just cymbal wash and minimal hits for maximum impact on the long open brown notes. It’s quite dynamic and a craft that the band has clearly honed in and out of studios and stages since their last album in 2014.
Album closer ‘Circus of Flesh’ is just as no-nonsense as anything that comes before it. The busy technical bullshit that kicks off the track is brought to a shattering halt with a brutal polyrhythmic break down mid way and then the band pauses to drone. Yes drone. What follows is nothing short of utter doom and sludge perfection and a bleak white noise outro finish. Outstanding.
Criticisms are few for this album. Variety is somewhat limited on ‘Olm’ which may deter some listeners. This could also be viewed as focus and consistency depending on whether you like it. Or not. The sounds are great and production is top notch which clearly owes itself to a lot of studio hours, care and attention to detail. The barrage of heaviness does wear a little on the nerves after a while BUT it gives greater impact to those surprise moments like a clean guitar part, a droning note, sudden pauses and the like.
Simply put ‘Hadal Maw’ have just set the bar for Aussie metal in 2017. It will be some time before I can say I’ve fully digested all that is going on here and that kind of shelf-life for a metal album doesn’t come easily.
Here’s the links:
*Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/caveiraphotography/