British five-piece Hacktivist continue their quest to splice genres with a full length debut packed with their Grime-Metal spawn, get ready for spitting bars and flying fists…
It is truly hard to find originality in any music scene today, at least, it’s hard to find unless you stumble across a French Jazz infused gospel metal, or something like that. From this perspective it’s easy to give Milton Keynes outfit Hacktivist a great deal of credit. They have created something new and exciting which sits well between the existing rap infused genres of nu-metal and UK grime scene which has recently emerged as a sensation across the globe.
Hacktivist’s debut LP has done much to establish their sound as a serious contender in the rock scene. As a follow up to their self-titled EP, Outside the Box has seen Hacktivist’s sound expand into realms untouched by any other band whilst sticking firmly to the heavy, layered, core of their 2012 effort. As soon as the opening synth laden tones of album intro Our Time come through the speakers it is obvious to any fan of this band that this is Hacktivist’s music, they have a brand in their instrumentation, right from their fat guitar riffs to their crunching breakdowns and their ability to not compromise this whilst making musical progressions is prominent on this record. Single Taken is possible the best example of the subtleties of Hacktivist’s evolution. The opening riff is uncharacteristically melodic and big, tending towards the atmospheric side of hard-core music before effortlessly sliding into the tight djent-inspired riffs of their staple sound. The addition of Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds on this track only serves to enhance its more melodic tendencies and to counter the grime vocals of both Ben Marvin and J Hurley. Similarly, Deceive and Defy is fortified in its quality by the use of Jamie Graham’s (Heart of a Coward) growls as a counterweight to its more laid back accompaniment.
This is perhaps where Hacktivist of having too much loyalty to their sound. Yes there is musical development yes there is differentiation across the record but it is mostly down to their use of featured artists. Whilst Elevate and Buszy are classic, heavy, hell-raising, grime infused Hacktivist tracks, they seem to take very little progression from the EP. Rotten can be seen as the bravest on the record as it is ultimately a grime track, with a seasoning of melodic riffs but it still takes much from an outside influence, featuring artists Astroid Boys and Jot Maxi.
On the other hand, the vocals are as ferocious and energetic as they have always been, injecting a dollop of pace into the album. The entire piece sounds like a competition in energy and passion, with the elements of grime and metal attempting to one up the other with every riff laden bar. ‘Think we’re gonna stop because a fake don’t rate us? Boris Johnson c**t aint gonna save us’ is a line which brings politics, government hatred and enough hater-bashing to inspire Stormzy into just a few seconds of tight metal carnage. This is what Hacktivist do best and it overshadows any shortcomings in their musical progression.
All in all, Outside the Box is a solid effort from the quintet. Its fast, it’s impactful and it’s Hacktivist through and through. It’s encrypted with the bands DNA and maybe, at the moment, they need something which establishes who they really are. They’ve made some expansions in sound and they’ve proven that their genre has the longevity to survive on an extended piece of music that can be displayed with pride. Any kind of major progression can wait, right now it’s just time for the popular grime seen to look over and watch its ugly metal brother make one hell of an impact.
In one line: Grime Metal, Grime Metal, Grime Metal.
Best lyrics: ‘My eyes dilate and it triggers off parts of my brain, I get a feeling that I can’t explain, The pen is a receiver’ (from ‘Deceive and Defy’.)