Review: “The Pecking Order” by Hedra

A trail of crumbs in the form of five well received stand alone singles over the past three years has led us through the forest on the darkest of winter nights, to a witches cottage, a debut EP titled “The Pecking Order” from Norwich quintet Hedra. A going concern since 2014 centred around the writing partnership of vocalist Jim Marten and guitarist Kamil Korsak, it was 2020 before they were able to solidify their line up with guitarist Zoran Gyenis, bassist Lukas Mozdzenski, and drummer James Redden joining the ranks after a revolving door of musicians having eaten the witches candy and grown sick…

In “The Pecking Order“, Hedra have presented us with half an hour of power, lyrically themed around the Governments handling of the Global Pandemic and the animalistic ways in which the Prime Minster dealt with the crisis, before going on to examine the similarities between human and animal relationships. Given the bands influences, cited in the likes of Iron Maiden, Mastodon and Tool, opening cut “Jackdaw” hits like 2000’s bands like Dry Kill Logic, early Drowning Pool or lesser known supergroup Medication in the overall sound, with a satisfying crunch, while having melodic clean vocals that provide that sing-a-long quality that fills arenas. “Stolen” follows suit, a tasteful solo enhancing the band a Post-Grunge sound with a heavier edge, the vocals giving it the warmth that a glass of single malt provides. The sound is well defined and with plenty of dirge laden groove building on the foundations of the likes of Alice In Chains or Staind with “Suchi“, that lyrical narrative cleverly disguised in a shroud of metaphors as Marten takes the indirect approach to allow the listener to take from it what they will. A well worked tempo shift up in pace in the mid section makes way for a satisfying breakdown section, something which the record could do with a little more of, before an ambient palate cleansing moment feels like floating into space.

After solid first half, the oddly titled “Avis Mogi” picks up the mid tempo groove with crunchy riffs embellished by tasteful leads that put Hedra firmly in the American Hard Rock Radio category of bands, helped by Marten’s clean vocal talents but feeling a little bit too similar to the earlier cuts to really stand out if it wasn’t for that ambient moment. A funkier take on the familiar “Storm Clouds” increases the melodies in the verses to allow the chorus to punch that much harder, making it a standout, the rhythms being tighter and the drive being clearer when it comes to the tempo shift. You might raise you eyebrows at the presence of a demo on the EP but in “Head Held High” the band have added a cut which sounds just as polished as the others. The difference here is that the cut has more of an introspective narrative and so doesn’t take us on the same path as the rest of the record, instead a soul baring from Marten resonates while having some welcome roars suggesting a darker heart may lay just beneath the surface. All in all, a solid start for a band that knows its own identity and just needs to add a little star dust in the form of a couple of real gut punch moments or the odd unclean vocal to match their obvious passion with a little more power [7/10]

Track Listing

  1. Jackdaw
  2. Stolen
  3. Suchi
  4. Avismogi
  5. Storm Clouds
  6. Head Held High (demo)

The Pecking Order” by Hedra is out 11th November 2022 via Devils Clause Records

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