Band - Hivelords
Album - Tapered Limbs of a Human Star
Country of Origin - USA
Genre - Avante Garde Doom Metal
Release Date - August 4, 2015
Label - Anthropic Records
I'd like to start this review with an apology to the band. I went to Detroit last summer to see a DIY show at a great space called the Sanctuary featuring Isenblast, Fell Ruin, Hivelords, Cloud Rat, and False. I was there primarily to see the latter two (who are high on my list of favorite bands), but was extremely impressed by this 5-piece from Philadelphia. I managed to catch up with them after their set and, when they found out I wrote reviews, they generously provided me with a download code for this album. Much listening ensued. I really did mean to write a review. I really did. Initially I struggled with what to say about this album (and still do), because of how dense and layered it is. Then, my new job duties kicked in and I dropped the blog until just a couple weeks ago. So, I'm writing today, long past the time I should have.
Tapered Limbs of a Human Star is a difficult piece of art to describe. I have seen the band labeled doom metal, black metal, sludge metal, avante garde metal. The reality is that all the labels fit at times, but none of them really give the true picture. When I stop to break down what each individual band member is doing, it doesn't seem all that special. Everybody is certainly competent with their instrument, including both the vocals and noise effects provided by Kevin North. Drummer Will Mellor gets blasting at times, which can definitely be work. The guitar lines provided by Lydia Giordano and Evan Void are solid. Ditto the bass work of Tyler Butler. This whole paragraph could be considered damning with faint praise if I ended there, but these facts don't give the whole picture.
Really, the brilliance of Hivelords is in the composition, the way all these parts are put together, the atmosphere created. Tapered Limbs of a Human Star is mesmeric, bleak, enthralling. This is the type of album that demands attention. Once it has it, the listener is carried away into the other...into the void. Unlike some metal bands, the atmosphere doesn't generally portend true evil, but rather nihilism of the highest order. When listening to the ominous intent of Tapered Limbs, you feel that the end is nigh. I don't mean just the end of you, but rather the end of all. After the end comes...nothing. This album is the soundtrack to the moment when the powers realize we exist and are immediately done with us.
It would be difficult to overstate how much I love this album. I have heard and felt something new every time I listen to it and it has been in heavy rotation since the day after that concert last August. In addition, the members I met (Kevin and Lydia) seem like really cool people. They are about to head out on tour. Details can be found on their Facebook page here. I highly recommend that you go see them and tell them Hayduke says hello.
Recommendation: Go buy this now. Put on your best headphones and listen to it straight through. Repeat. See them live.