Chickenhawk – Modern Bodies

A cracking noise, and despite the grandiloquent nature of the press release (an aside; I’d love, love, love it if record company press releases would have the confidence to say, “this record, it’s sound and you might like it” rather than predicting world domination on the back of a recommendation from NME), this is a record that you should give a spin whether you’re a metal fan or not..

Enough bitching from me. The opening track, Bottle Rocket smashes down all before it on the back of a wave of structured, syncopated metal and second track The Pin doesn’t alter any sonic course, rather reinforces what is the band’s trademark sound: (you’ll get the same sort of approach on Son of CERN or Piglosaur later on too). Now, I must say that I really like the way that this band constructs this record. It is really ruthless music right from the off, things are dismantled and re-structured so thoroughly, you could almost imagine this being the exhortatory, “limbering up” music used for Soviet factory workers back in the day: (check out tracks like NASA vs ESA and the heady Gravitronic Liferay Table). What makes this an excellent and different record is the interplay of the vocals and the guitar. The singer has a fixed agenda, relentlessly expounding his points and not really looking to give much away outside of his ranting and wailing (we do get a different approach on Mandarin Grin, though not for long). This approach could tiresome but the vocalist’s energy sends sparks through the music and infuses the sound with its high octane attack.

By contrast, the subtle guitar runs and structures inform the general mood pretty brilliantly, allowing the listener space and recognition of the band’s overall sound. There’s an appreciation of texture and a sense of space here that is rare in a metal release, maybe the guitar parts are best described as industrial prog. The spaceyness can be heard in The Let Down and  I Hate This, Do You Like It?, which starts as a slow space rock cycle before a dizzying array of guitar runs come in to send the listener in a completely different direction. 

Totalitarian marching music with a proggy, metal twist. Will that do you?