Chickenhawk - Modern Bodies

There’s plenty to be assaulted and energised by.

Leeds has been very good to the rock community this year. Pulled Apart By Horses and Dinosaur Pile-Up have both achieved deserved levels of acclaim (if not coverage) and are being followed hotly by their heavier cousins, Chickenhawk.

Although implying that Chickenhawk are riding the coattails is a wholly inaccurate impression to give. ‘Modern Bodies’ is actually the second studio album from the four piece and follows on from last years ‘A. Or Not?’ EP that brought them acclaim that thankfully they’ve taken their time to follow up on. Their hardcore-pop-thrash is perfected into songs that retain dynamics and production flourish that prevents the descent into monotonous ear-draining sludge that’s far too common in harder rock.

Take ‘The Pin’, which only unleashes itself after a full minute of effected guitars and intermediate drumming. From there we get blasts of aggression intercut with instrumental passages that retain intensity whilst providing melody. Along with ‘I Hate This, Do You Like It?’ we’ve the epitome of what Chickenhawk are getting at sonically. The guitar work is virtuoso, but hammered trough effects peddles. This lends the solos the feel more of space battles and laser cannon fire more than it does fret-wankery. Of course the latter of these songs hams up its sci-fi-horror brilliance with a video that’s zombie-rific and a must watch.

For those of us who simply aren’t used to fire-power of this magnitude from a guitar album, initial listens can feel a bit samey. Rest assured, unlike metal that’s made purely for the black clad cult this is actually fun. It lacks the sense of pompous elitism that plagues ‘proper’ metal or hardcore but retains what we can only refer to as ‘killer riffage’.

Before you’re wondering what’s gotten into us, and why your favourite indie-pop website has gone and used the word ‘riffage’ rest assured, we’re still the loveable Bis fans that we’ve always been. In fact there’s one song on ‘Modern Bodies’ that’s actually a bit naff. ‘My Name Is Egg’ might put you off with its title, but we can forgive that as the band have also penned tracks called things such as ‘Son of CERN’ and ‘Gravitroinic Life-Ray Table’. What’s hard to get by is the vocals which are delivered in such a whispering growl that we’re reminded of parts of Nu-Metal that we’ve buried so deep down that we can’t say which artist it actually recalls. Skip this track and head straight for ‘Mandarin Grin’.

‘Kerosene’ is of the longest tracks on the album and fractured into so many tiny fragments that stop and start, it’s easy to assume the song’s finished several times over before the timer clicks over the the next track. Yes, it’s prog but it’s also quite awesome and very very loud. Such music is always carried on its drums (Mastodon’s ‘Crack The Skye’ from last year is evidence of that) and Chickenhawk have a drummer to rival any other. Fills and double-kick may be ten-a-penny in thrash bands, but it’s deployed here with skill and the production allows it it’s own moment in the sun, rather than just being a constant thunder.

Still, despite the tendency to prog out and the lone Nu-Metal infliction, like any decent heavy band they sound as though they’ve an appreciation for Reign in Blood in their DNA. This grounds them and ensures that the overall verdict on ‘Modern Bodies’ can be nothing but positive. From the opening squall to ‘Scorpieau’ to the startlingly abrupt end to ‘Bottle Rocket’ there’s plenty to be assaulted and energised by.

Tags: Reviews, Album Reviews

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