In the nicest possible way Hiram have been chasing SonicAbuse for a review with commendable determination. That they have, up until now, been unsuccessful was not down to a lack of interest, but simply due to a lack of time, and having now actually sat down to listen to Hiram’s sonically brilliant ‘See the thing within the thing’ we can only really send our gratitude to the band for introducing themselves to us. The album, despite its unwieldy title, is a monster of a record. Available via bandcamp, it features a mere six tracks and yet still clocks in at well over fifty minutes with one song alone hitting the seventeen minute mark although, despite the length of the compositions, the songs flow beautifully from one to the next giving the feeling that the record is considerably shorter than it is despite the often scathing guitars that pour forth from the speakers.
Opening track ‘see the thing’ sets the scene with scalding guitars seeping from the speakers like lava – slow, relentless, crushing in their inevitability – while the bass lays a solid foundation which sees walls and ceiling vibrating with the intense strain. The lengthy ‘winner dies last (aspiration)’ sees the band introducing vocals to the mix and which, despite being delivered in gravel and whiskey soaked tones, add a melodic depth to the whole that sticks in the brain long after the EP has drawn to an end. There’s a disparate range of influences here – the stripped back, rhythmic attack of Tool on the second verse, a touch of Dillinger Escape Plan in the vocals, Isis and Neurosis both in the song’s overall genetic structure – and they all come together to form a sound that is uniquely Hiram’s own, no mean feat in these over-saturated times. ‘Respiration (within the thing)’, in contrast, provides a brief hint of light within the darkness, the band adopting the neo-classical structures of James Blackshaw and merging them with the jazz cacophony of Miles Davis. Operating in a similar vein to the similarly inspired Mantra (reviewed earlier this month), the one unarguable fact is that the independent music scene is currently throwing up bands possessed of a greater degree of inspiration than anything found in the largely insipid mainstream, and it’s refreshing to see bands invoking so many different influences in their work.
Such a diversion as ‘respiration’ only serves to make the unhinged fury of ‘Conspiration’ all the more shocking as it launches itself at you like a killer form the shadows, clawing and spitting, leaving the listener shaken and disorientated. It’s a ferocious attack, the angular guitars of which recall Mastadon covering Fugazi but, as you might expect from the band, the mood gradually shifts and the listener finds themselves stripped and alone, wondering through prog and post-rock territory, in awe of the band’s immense compositional skill. Nothing here sounds forced or unnecessary and the result is a breath-taking piece of music that ebbs and flows across a number of genres whilst always staying true to the band’s own unique style. Not since Refused have a band so continuously confounded expectations whilst simultaneously crafting a cohesive record, and you can only wonder at the size of the band’s respective CD collections so great appears to be the depth and breadth of their musical knowledge. ‘Respiration (calm and deep)’ is another lengthy (twelve-minutes plus) workout that opens on a dark and sludgy trip caught somewhere between Buzzo*ven and Neurosis, the guitars weaving a brutally oppressive web around the listener, only for the long expected vocal assault to utterly fail to materialise, the band instead opting for a grungy drawl that recalls Kurt Cobain’s uneasy, pre-Bleach compositions. The song does, eventually, wind itself up, but it’s an unnerving trip that seems more lost in resignation than furious in opposition right up until the instrumentally fascinating outro that takes in Tool-esque art rock, jazz and even tribal percussion. It segues straight into the seventeen minute long ‘it can’t come quick enough’, a track that implausibly opens as a male-fronted Morcheeba before slowly progressing through Captain Beefheart territory and out into the realms of pure jazz. If anyone is making music like this apart from Hiram, we have yet to encounter them.
‘See the thing within the thing’ is a near perfect album, at least for SonicAbuse, although it is arguable that there are those who will find the album’s scattershot nature less appealing. Those seeking a straightforward metal fix will likely find the album’s many diversions aggravating, whilst those more inclined towards jazz may find the brutally metallic passages uneasy listening to say the least. For those of more adventurous tastes, however, Hiram are a wildly inventive, genuinely progressive force and the only criticism that it is possible to level at the band is that the record is not available physically (if it is ever pressed on vinyl I will be the first in the queue!). Available via bandcamp (follow the link below) and priced as ‘name your price’, this is without doubt a brilliantly realised work that demands your attention. Hiram we salute you – now get some records pressed!
Did we get it right? Download the album now and decide!!