Saturday, 31 December 2011

Serious Beak - Huxwhukw

Described by their record label as "psychedelic-progressive discordant metal", when Sydney based Serious Beak landed their talons on my 'pooter I was wondering if I would like this, as endless crushing bludgeon riffola is not what my Sound Doctor normally prescribes. And I happen to have a cold coming on, so the idea of trying to extract the nuances from 41 minutes of probable headache inducing noise did not fill me with glee. 

Firstly I have to say the cover artwork really deserves a mention, as Caitlin Hackett has provided the band with something quite stunning...just take a look at this:

"Huxwhukw is the supernatural long-beaked cannibal bird and servant to Baxwbakwalnuksiwé, the "Cannibal at the North end of the world" in Kwakwaka’wakw mythology. Huxwhukw uses his long, snapping beak to crack open the skulls of men to eat their brains and pluck out their eyeballs.
All hail Huxwkwux and the Crooked Beak of Heaven." Just in case you didn't know!

Now, the music. No vocals here, it's all instrumental, so at least I'm spared my personal bane, the Cookie Monster cometh! There are parts of this that pin you to the wall and attempt to stomp you down, Tuī / Tuō for example, but within those crushing riffs are interludes of eerie weirdness. Opener Baxwbakwalanuksiwé being a case in point, setting the scene with a slow cyclical guitar figure that puts me in mind of early Felt, about as far from metal as you can get.

This from their brief biog on Bandcamp - ""Huxwhukw" is an eccentric amalgamation of mind-melting, toe-tapping, psychedelic, progressive and poly-rhythmic discordant music, sure to please fans of Meshuggah, Mastodon, Botch, The Mars Volta and King Crimson." All these bases and more are covered on Han, as the poly-rhythmic and metal riffing comes out of the woodwork slowly which in parts reminds me of Opeth without the growling. The figure from the opening track is repeated after the brief riffing start, building to a passage of straight rock with a Crimsoid bent. On Swagger we are treated to some violent speed metal, but even here the rhythm chops and changes all over the shop to keep ones interest. The song ends with more very slow drawn out notes that lead into the following track Gödel !Xun, which then morphs into some fine acid rock. Actually the more one listens to this the more you will find behind the what at first listen appears to be the dominance of metal stylings. Is Anhrefn a tribute to the Welsh punks of that name? Well, given that Anhrefn translates from Welsh as disorder, and given the structured chaos of its two and a half minutes, it very possibly is. The fact that an Australian avant-metal band can reference an obscure Welsh punk act just goes to show their diverse influences. I've since been told by the band that they do not know of the Welsh punkers, but that one of them has Welsh ancestors...oh well, can't be right all the time!

Probably the most avant thing here is Sporãs which charges around all over the shop, occasionally stopping to pick up a detuned guitar on the way, along with some spooky math atmospherics. Madness writ large! Fljóta (Icelandic for float) gives us a welcome break from the syncopated insanity of the previous two tracks, with heavily reverbed chanting adding to the eerie atmospherics.

More math-metal pervades closer Taheu Nadryvy, Taheu! (sorry, no idea!) bringing Primus to mind, and leaves us with a challenging listen, a must for all avant-metal fans, but not really my cup of tea. Now, where's that cold remedy?

1. Baxwbakwalanuksiwé 02:23
2. Han 08:17
3. Swagger 05:11
4. Gödel !Xun 02:40
5. Tuī / Tuō 07:23
6. Anhrefn 02:29
7. Sporãs 02:43
8. Lähendama 02:17
9. Fljóta 03:44
10. Taheu Nadryvy, Taheu! 04:33

Line up:
Gene White - drums
Tim Brown - telecaster
Lachlan R. Dale - les paul
Andrew Mortensen - bass

Get this at Bandcamp

Happy New Year!

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