Heavy metal, perhaps more than any other genre, can be extremely resistant to change, it’s a conservative moment that enforces its rules and regulations with almost religious fervour. Therefore, it takes a brave band to come along and break down those walls, and that’s exactly where HAWXX step in. Ripping up the rule book, then piecing it together in new and exciting ways, the result is Earth, Spit, Blood and Bones a debut album that will surely propel HAWXX into metal’s top tier.
It seems as if HAWXX have been around for aeons (festival goers will undoubtedly have seen their explosive live act) so it’s surprising that the are only just releasing their first long player. However, the flip side is that they have a strong fanbase to build upon and the upshot is that they are brimming with confidence. That becomes immediately apparent on opening shot ‘Death Makes Sisters Of Us All’, there’s no elongated introductions or preambles, just the band arriving like a ten-ton hammer, and if anyone’s still holding antiquated ideas about gender and metal, this track’ll smash ‘em to smithereens. Carrying a live prowess over into the studio is no easy task, but Earth, Spit, Blood and Bones does an admiral job and is the closest you’ll get to HAWXX playing in your living room.
The band’s (not so) secret weapon is certainly drummer Jessica Dann. The playing is progressive and evidences a jazz schooling; the time signatures are always shifting (eat your heart out Dave Burbeck!) and ensures things never become stagnant and staid. In fact, the forward-facing nature of the band’s sound draws favourable comparisons with the likes of Meshuggah. HAWXX make good use of musical dynamics, and no more so than on ‘Trust Your Rage’ where quiet sections are pitted against dense walls of sonics, with each acting as a foil to highlight and contrast the other. Yet, for all their reformist leanings, HAWXX do the visceral equally well and ‘Bite’ is a caustic number that seethes with unbridled rage and could corrode metal and strip paint.
Maybe it is those progressive leanings, but this record flows like an old school album, it has an ebb and flow that ululates like a ship on a stormy sea over the course of 10 choppy tracks. It’s an album that never runs out of good ideas, and the vocal interplay on final song ‘Fathertongue’ is simply stunning. In fact, this album is overflowing with invention, so much so that you’ll probably need a few spins to take it all in. But when an album is as good as Earth, Spit, Blood and Bones, that’s no real hardship.
- Earth, Spit, Blood and Bones is self-released on 4th November 2023.
- Death Makes Sisters Of Us All
- The Worst Thing
- Embrace The Ugly
- Trust Your Rage
- If Not Now Then When
- Soundbreaking Machines