Third time round still not pushing the envelope
After making a major splash in the metalcore scene with their second album Courting Tragedy And Disaster in 2003 (Their first album for Prosthetic Records following their move from Revelation Records), Seattle (Washington) based act Himsa have finally delivered their all-important third full length release Hail Horror. Although having been through some turbulent times (Guitarist Sammi Curr decided to leave the band soon after the release of their last album, who was duly replaced by Matt Wicklund, before Curr replaced him as he rejoined the band just in time to record their new album), Himsa (Who remain the same with vocalist John Pettibone, guitarist Kirby Charles Johnson, bassist Derek Harn and drummer Tim Mullen) have managed to come through the other side with what is undoubtedly their strongest effort yet.
To the sound of chiming bells, Anathema sets the tone of the album with plenty of slow riffing structures before picking up prior to the chorus. The chorus slows the tempo back down to the speed of the introduction, giving the song plenty of paced variation, with Pettibone's vocals sounding as growled as ever. The fast paced Sleezevil picks up the intensity further with plenty of galloping beats and heavy breakdowns (In a Slayer like fashion), while The Destroyer takes the intensity another step up, giving the album one of its strongest moments overall. A strong Arch Enemy influence is felt within the twin guitar led harmonies and solo dominated tracks Pestilence, Wolfchild and They Speak In Swarms, while the long introduction to Wither shows a slight broadening of Himsa's sound within the metal realm.
Another of the albums definite stand out cuts comes with Seminal. From the edgy technical riffing, the driving tempo and Pettibone's impassioned vocal delivery, Himsa certainly hit their intended target with sniper accuracy. Finishing up the set is the solid Calling In Silent and the punishing Send Down Your Reign. There's virtually none of the old hardcore elements that were heard on the bands previous releases present on Hail Horror, and compared to Courting Tragedy And Disaster, Himsa seem to have adopted an almost Gothenburg sound at times. The only problem however is that in the two years since the bands last release, little has changed in the song writing sense. Sure, the guitarists have certainly improved, and the production is nothing short of stunning (How could it not be with Tue Madsen manning the console?), but essentially there's precious little here that wasn't already there on their previous release.
Hail Horror is a good album, but if Himsa really want to take themselves up to the next level, they really need to push the envelope a little further next time to not only challenge their listeners, but themselves as well.
(Prosthetic Records/Stomp Records Distribution)