I’ve been rattling my head and getting lost in my own thoughts when trying to even think of a way of approaching this review. With prog it’s usually pretty difficult anyways due to the content of a singular track, but when an artist or groups embodies more than just the prog staple, it really leaves you stuck for words. If I were to use the word technical when describing this group, it would be a horrific understatement. If I were to use the word complex when describing this group, it would be yet another horrific understatement. If I were to say, that this group is the biggest surprise in my music journalism career thus far, then even that would be an understatement. I am left absolutely and positively speechless. Since embarking on my proggy path I have fallen in and out of love with groups like Animals as Leaders, Periphery, Dillinger Escape Plan, Plini, CHON and many more. However, no matter what love is lost, they all still manage to remain as my biggest influences and musical loves. I mean I know a music journalist shouldn’t be biased in any way, but everyone has those few groups that can do no wrong in the eyes of their fans. HUNG has just hit that level for me, after listening to one record too, that’s one hell of an achievement.
When I first caught drift of this group I thought, ‘eh, probably another lifeless djent group, nothing special’ and boy was I wrong. This group blew my freakin’ mind (tiny though it may be, but still blown nonetheless). Not only does this album have some features from some of my favourite artists like Angel Vivaldi, but it also has some of the best sequences I’ve heard in a prog album all year. How had I not heard of these guys before! They are like a perfect mix of AAL’s, Polyphia and Periphery. The guitar work, unbelievable, the synths, absolutely gorgeous, the drums, intelligent and well phrased, the vocals, recognisable and unique; I’m struggling to find a single fault here!
Production wise this album is pretty darn solid. The guitars possess a sweet, heavily distorted tone that still maintains it’s clarity despite the low tuning. The synths/pads push interesting timbres and vibrant textures into the mix that vary from track to track. The drums are wholesome and impactful; some of the fills felt like they straight up hit me in the gut. ‘Heck even the piano on ‘Focus Extinction’ brought me back to my ambient music days; the tonal qualities of this album are all perfectly weighted. Sure there are little bits here and there that could do with a touch of improvement. Every now and then the bass/low end of the track lacked a lot of warmth and presence; I only say this because my subwoofers lost grip of the bass once or twice throughout the album on short spikes. The meshing of the accompaniment every now and then didn’t blend as intimately as I’d probably want it; but these are tiny nitpicks and flaws which you’d only notice if you’re actively looking for criticism.
The musicality of the album… Well what can I say really. Last week we had Dan James Griffin knock our jaws to the floor, this week our jaws just about fallen off the face of the Earth. I cannot express to you enough how technical and complex this album is; it’s a musical achievement. It reminded me of when I first listened to Dirty Loops and heard Henrick Linder play bass for the first time, back then I thought ‘wow, the rate of growth that music is going through both technically and proficiently at the moment is unreal’; listening to these guys only reiterated that feeling. The polyrhythms are unparalleled, the chordal progressions are enticing, and the harmonies just work so beautifully. Tracks like ‘Mr Mcgroover’ have some of the most intelligent melodic phrasing I’ve ever heard; the solo on that track kicks ass by the way. The only track I didn’t really connect with was ‘Browbeat’. To me it kind of broke up the feel of the album and I can see the parody there but it just wasn’t for me; it gave me flashbacks to Issues latest track and we all know how I felt about that.
The most impressive aspect around this album for me however, is how they managed to lay off the self indulgence. Now that might be a strange statement to use, but I mean it in all honesty. My main problem with the likes of Polyphia and, as I expressed in my review of their latest track, Animals as Leaders, is that they have a tendency of getting lost in their own compositions. They try to be too bold, too over the top, and try to make sections so technical for the hell of being technical; I believe the phrase is technical w***ery. Here I never got that feeling. Tracks like ‘One Shrute Buck’ actually contain a valid hook; an instrumental section that is catchy and hummable. I know that’s a very commercialised way of looking at it, but nonetheless, I still think this is a huge compliment to the integrity of the group.
For the songs that do use vocals, lyrically the tracks are pretty vivid and quirky. Of course this album follows this very prehistoric theme, but the lyrics are written in a way that you can kind of connect with the themes that are being expressed. It reminded me very much of the way Contortionist use vocals. They balance power and raw tenacity, with delicacy and emotion; it adds a whole ton to a track. It gives a song that emotional resonance that gives it a boosted ‘replayability factor’.
So all in then this album is a shoo in for featuring on our album of the year list. Where it will place, we can’t tell yet, but it will be there don’t you worry. I definitely recommend you to give this one a listen, it cannot be missed.
G Rating: 8.5/10 – This is up there with Plini’s new album, no doubt about it.
I Rating: 9.25/10 – If you’re a fan of prog, then you’re doing yourself a disservice by not listening to the album.