Following the ‘Holon’ trilogy of releases, Andover progressive metal trio The Hirsch Effekt have returned with their latest odyssey, Eskapist.
Erupting from the speakers, ‘Lifnej’ is a breathless opening gambit. Maintaining a frenetic pace for most of its duration, the track hints at what’s to come as we travel through sections of ambience, chunky melodic motifs and jazz freakouts.
The towering duo of ‘Xenophotopia’ and ‘Natans’ follow, expanding further on the themes introduced in ‘Lifnej’ and taking them to new extremes. The former introduces Rammsteinian spoken word, woodwind and brass instrumentation and cock rock guitar soloing in less time than it takes to brush your teeth. Initially, it’s hard not to be taken in by the sheer inventiveness that emanates from this extremely talented three piece, as their shock and awe tactics mean each song on Eskapist has something unique to explore.
Unfortunately, the extent to which this can carry the record is somewhat limited. The modern metal production job – while somewhat requisite given the technicality of certain sections – is left groaning under the weight of the band’s ambition, leaving very little in the way of memorability, and leaving each track’s identity somewhat diluted. Elsewhere, the album’s Meshuggah meets Devin Townsend centrepiece ‘Lysios’ feels just a bit too bloated, and – like several moments on ‘Eskapist’ – is crying out for a strong-willed editor.
However, this lack of focus isn’t a problem that plagues the entire record. Exempt is the epic single ‘Inukshuk’, clocking in at just over five minutes, things are kept succinct, with guitarist/vocalist Nils Wittrock’s powerful and emotive vocals given room to breathe. As a result this makes for the Eskapist’s most memorable moment.
With the sheer musical dexterity and unbridled talent on show here, it would be remiss to not keep an eye on this band’s future. However, with just a little too much flab on its bones, Eskapist is unlikely to really resonate much further than tech metal’s most dedicated followers.
‘Eskapist’ by The Hirsch Effekt is out now on SPV / Long Branch Records.
Words by Josh Graham (@ghoulie_ghost)