Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hierophant - Mass Grave

By Craig Hayes. I first encountered Hierophant around the time they released their second full-length, 2013’s Great Mother: Holy Monster. That LP was released by noted US punk label Bridge Nine, and it was an aptly skull-cracking riot of über-incensed metallic hardcore. Hierophant’s 2014 album, Peste
By Craig Hayes.

Artwork by Paolo Girardi

I first encountered Hierophant around the time they released their second full-length, 2013’s Great Mother: Holy Monster. That LP was released by noted US punk label Bridge Nine, and it was an aptly skull-cracking riot of über-incensed metallic hardcore. Hierophant’s 2014 album, Peste, was also released by Bridge Nine, and it delivered more of the same ultra-nihilistic noise. But the band’s latest album, Mass Grave, is being released by famed metal label Season of Mist, and it sees Hierophant slather their crusty hardcore with more sludge, black metal, grindcore and death metal than ever before.

No question, Mass Grave is Hierophant’s most extreme metal album yet. Punk still looms large, especially in Hierophant’s attitude, but Mass Grave’s savage ordnance is delivered with more of metal's bludgeon than hardcore’s bite. It’s a subtle shift in sound for the band, which may seem a little incongruent given Hierophant’s music is so ear-splitting and confrontational, but that change in Hierophant’s approach means Mass Grave does feature more multifaceted musicality.

Photos by Pedro Roque.

Don’t get me wrong, Hierophant haven't gone prog or decided adding post-anything elements is a good idea. Like their phenominally talented punk/metal labelmates, This Gift is a Curse, Hierophant have simply added more steel-edged armour to their sound for their first Season of Mist release. The band is still making wrathful music for the impending apocalypse, it’s just that when tracks like "Execution of Mankind", "Forever Crucified", "Crematorium" and "The Great Hoax" come hurling out the gate, it's death metal and grindcore leading the charge. If the band’s previous predilection for situating filthy hardcore upfront was what drew you to Hierophant, then maybe all that metal leading the audio assault will feel a little different. But there’s no lessening of intensity or anger on Hierophant’s behalf, and Mass Grave is certainly the band’s heaviest release to date.

Ultimately, closing Mass Grave with 7-minutes of feedback as the trampling HM2 overload of "Eternal Void" winds down is a superb exit strategy that explains everything here. It hammers home that parts of Hierophant's sound have changed, but it also reafirms that their desire to do things their own way remains as punk rock as it ever was. (Note: make sure to also check out Mass Grave's fantastic cover art courtesy of Paolo Girardi.)

FFO: Nails, Trap Them, Black Breath, All Pigs Must Die, and Baptists.

Tagged with 2016, black metal, Craig Hayes, hardcore, Hierophant, Pedro Roque, Season of Mist, sludge metal
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