Hostile “Hypnotic Regression” Record Review by Adam Joad of Scattered Hamlet.
When I was approached by the good folks at The Pit Magazine to do review Hostile, though I thought it was cool they asked me or regarded my opinion as being one of any importance, I still had reservations. For me, I’ve always had a love/hate affair with music journalism because I’m a musician and performer first and I understand the frustration when the “media” doesn’t get what you’re trying to do and I get how awesome it is to see a publication totally understand and appreciate what you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into.
So before I write anything else, understand that I don’t know shit. I’m an idiot savant of music trivia and I’m a full grown man who tours the country playing honky tonk metal that stands on beer kegs for a living. I have the complete Wham discography in my iPod and I have Black Flag + Misfits tattoos. In other words, don‘t take my word for it, check it out yourself. Hostile: “Hypnotic Regression” EP.
Since I’ve never reviewed an album by a band I didn’t know already, I wasn’t sure where to start. Do I listen first? Do I look at the press pics first? Do I read the bio? I wasn’t sure. In this case I looked at the press photos, album cover and read the bio. The cover grasped my attention. Now call me superficial or whatever but I like art. I think it brands the band, I think it provides a great framework to let us know what we should be seeing. When it comes together well, you get epic shit like Iron Maiden and the entire mystique around the band is bigger than who’s playing. With this one, the cover was slick. It’s an illustration of a crazy girl writing random numbers in a padded room. Granted I don’t know what the hell “hypnotic regression” is because I’m just a simple Appalachian American, but her look of the character is hypnotic and I dug it.
So before I started listening to Hostile, these guys had some good shit working in their favor in the Joad mind. Slick cover art, a unified vision and they’re from Texas. Texas especially is one of my favorite areas, to tour in and for music in general. When I think Texas I think ZZ Top, Pantera, Stevie Ray Vaughn and more recently, Born to Lose, Honky, Mothership and Texas Hippie Coalition – good shit across a lot of genres. Though I heard some really promising stuff in this release, I’m certainly not ready to throw Hostile into that list yet. The EP opens with a track called “Broken.” A lot of metal bands miss the importance of a strong chorus and these landed a and set up a really good chorus on a solid riff. It’s heavy and it has slow breaks, double time outros and things that keep the tune moving along. There is this long middle breakdown section I thought was a lost opportunity. It could be a cool moment in a live show but I don’t think it translates on to the record. There’s a guitar lead and bass match kind of thing that was a cool concept but misses the mark with the bass run sounding muddy below the guitar it’s trying to follow.
I like the lead playing and I was hoping to hear more of that on the double time outro but there was no such layering. I couldn’t understand many of the lyrics but I heard stuff about “life” and “death” and it seemed like material that’s been covered many ways already with this not putting much a new or innovative spin on it. The second track, “Demons,” kicks off with a thin thrash style riffing that breaks into a “Cowboys From Hell” kind of kick in and groove. The song clearly talks about personal demons and cuts to a melodic chorus that seems a little out of the comfort zone for the vocals. This tune is heavy on the double kick and the lead break is probably my favorite part of the tune with classic metal harmonies. The third track, “Through the Eyes of the Wicked,” is solid tune with many elements that really attract me to metal. The chorus though seems a little forced and suffers from the same issue that happened with “Demons.”
The last and title track, “Hypnotic Regression,” has a more interesting start and hearkened back to the first time I listened to “Fade to Black” from my favorite Metallica album. Hitting the first guitar lead instead of going to a huge traditional chorus was a ballsy move but it paid off for this tune and made it stand out from the standard fare the other tracks offered. This approach, instead of the melodic chorus stretches of the previous 2 tunes, I felt were a better showcase of what this band does best.
Based on what I’ve heard, Hostile seems like a band I’d have a great time seeing live and losing my shit in a mosh pit but not something I’d likely add to my Spotify list – it does’t give me that same feeling I get when say “Revolution is My Name” or “Cowboys From Hell” comes up on the shuffle. Of course those are big shoes to fill, but that’s the title holder you take a swing at when you establish yourself as a brutal Texas metal outfit. I like the idea of an EP for a bands first release. It draws the outline of the band and shows the foundation of what’s to come.
Some first EP’s just blow you away. Some are good and show a band looking to settle into their sound. If this EP is a window into what Hostile has the potential become, I’d be excited to see what they come up with in the future and I’d like to catch them live. I’d really like to see who they are though in their music; there’s a lot of ground here that I feel has already been covered by a lot of bands who’ve done it better. The cool thing about music is that there will be folks that think this is the best metal album in a long time and that’s badass. Not everything moves everybody the same way.
Pros: They’re from Texas, It’s metal as fuck, solid metal guitar lead playing and intense hardcore vocals
Cons: Lack of innovation, trouble pulling off the melodic vocals, overused double kick and some questionable song arrangements
-Adam Joad (The Appalachian Apostle)