Chicago Illinois is home to HIVE, a band that pride themselves on dark and atmospheric immensely heavy, down-tuned Deathcore combined with the polyrhythmic nuances of progressive Death Metal. The quintet recently started putting out some decent new music with a pair of singles in “Abdicate” and “Pale Black” so we thought we’d check out where it all began with the December 2016 self titled debut EP. Not only does their line-up comprise guitarist duo Pierre Worth & Mike Shanahan, vocalist Juanye West, drummer Erik Shirley and bassist Shady Hamid, who are all scene veterans with various other bands, but the EP also features keyboards and programming from Cameron Losch of Born of Osiris.
At 15 minutes and 33 seconds, HIVE’s self titled debut EP doesn’t pull any punches. Opener “Leviathan” has a 10 second atmospheric build before drummer Erik Shirley delivers the opening salvos of footwork and some DJent guitars kick in. Juanye West’s vocals are particularly savage as he growls and barks through the low end, though he does have a higher pitched tone that offers variety if appearing to be a little strained at points. The eight string guitars swivel through chugging tempo changes that keep things in the DJent range while allowing more space for the vocals at points. “Mental Laceration” is the shortest track on the EP at 2 minutes 47 seconds, during which West’s lyrics expose the demons in his head and threaten to use a drill to release them, accompanied by the sound. It’s eerie, fast, driven and bludgeoning-ly effective. The vocal layering during the opening verse is far more effective than during the opening track and the dark atmospherics during the chorus are a tempo step down before the driven step up for the following verse with blast beats and guitar squeals a plenty. “Defiled” gives us a 10 second dark synth build before it’s buried underneath a barrage of riffage and drum fill patterns and murderous lyrics and vocals take hold. The Spanish vocal lines are a nice touch and add extra depth and gravity to the darkness while the Shady Hamid’s bass tones add drive to the surprisingly progressive tech-inspired guitar work. Opening with digitised and off kilter synths that make way for the opening guitar and drum patterns after 20 seconds, “Sapience” closes the EP in crushing style. The post chorus guitars aren’t too far away from those of “Killing Fields” by Heart Of A Coward but the glorious lead section that follows is a masterstroke, as is the decision to include the drop to a dark an atmospheric whispered vocal line before the pick up. The truth is, Deathcore vocals with Death Metal leanings aside, the EP has more in common with the heavy end of tech-metal than anything else and it has to be said, there are times when those vocals are heavier than the guitars! [7.5/10]
“Self-Titled” EP by HIVE is available over at bandcamp.