Sound: Himsa have been around for about 10 years, but recently broke up. They've released 4 albums, the first 3 being mostly metalcore efforts. This album, their final release, has departed ways from a stereotypical metalcore sound to incorparate a more Melodic Death Metal album. And I must say, its one of the best things I've ever listened to.
They combine the aggresion and time changes of metalcore with the speed and melody of melodic death metal. The guitar style is a cross between thrash and modern day melodeath and a wah wah is used (very effectively) for the solos.
The album has 11 tracks in total, each one unique in its own way and covering a small variety of other genres:
01. Reinventing the Noose: a good taster song, the intro is strangley serene until the twin guitars come in with a slow melodic passage. But this belies the the thrashy death metal speed that follows straight after. But, like metalcore always does, the beat halves and slows down the momentum somewhat, but it picks up again a few seconds later. A nice forerunner for the rest of the album, but there are better songs.
02. Haunter: a slightly slower song than track 1, but it instantly draws you in with a definative 'HAAAUNTEEER!' In the beginning. It lacks the melody of the first track and relies more on sheer aggression, even doubling the entire speed of the song halfway through. not one of my favourites, but a solid song.
03. Big Timber: despite the odd name, its a very catchy song, filled with pleasing melodic riffs and a catchy bridge. And the music video is really really stupid..
04. Given It To The Taking: one of my more favourite songs from the album, its filled with explosive drum rolls and an epic chorus guitar harmony and the most pleasing of the kind. For some reason its not a particularly popular song among fans, but it should prove to be pretty headbangable to the doubters.
05. Skinwalkers: now THIS is a song, a psuedo-power ballad if you will, it plays a spanish guitar intro and hammers your ears with a wall of distortion. Maybe a little exaggerated, but still, a highly melodic powerful sound. However, you might feel a little let down after the fast build up, which ends in a breakdown (ugh..) and leads into a not-so-melodic but speedy riff accompanied by blast beats. However the post-chorus is always a nice melody to listen to, and the screech of the wah wah pedal as the solo starts drives me mental.. And after it picks up again, it reverts to the epic intro to make an epic outro, putting a fine end to this epic track.
06. Curseworship: the second song I listened to on the album, it has a very nice main riff, sounding much like a song from Reinkaos by Dissection, but its nothing compared to the empowering chorus that really puts your heartbeat up and the bridge follows the same root. Definatly a favourite.
07. Hooks As Hands: a rather more heavier song than melodic, but the Pinch Harmonics are immense, it soon speeds up quite a bit to a more thrash inspired tremelo riff. However, it has a very 80's style solo to it which is rather uplifting.
08. Ruin Them: not really a favourite of mine, the intro is a bit samey within the metalcore genre and it put me off a little, but it soon speeds up into a cacaphony of percussion and screams. The odd rythms and the odd solos combine for a very catchy song, if a little offputting as the breakdown kicks in..
09. Den Of Infamy: definatly an instant favourite, this departs from the albums main sound and takes a more Sludge/Doom metal sound. Its a bit slow and plodding, but its slow enough to be more relaxing than exhilirating. And the melody.. is monumental. Something to just nod your head to when you need a kickback.
10. Unleash Carnage: a rather short song by any standards (except maybe grindcore standards), it instantly hits you in the face and barely leaves time to breath. The riffs were explored before in earlier songs, but the solo is a nice touch to it, fitting in very well with the sheer speed. And if you want cheap laughs, watch the absurd music video.
11. Summon In Thunder: at last we come to the title track, the thundering intro (no pun intended) instantly bringing a fist to pound a table. The thrashy drum rythm/blast beats provide a rush, but once again, in keeping time with labels, yet another not-so-bad breakdown ensues, instantly picking itself up again a second later. Its then followed by a rather melodic solo/bridge reminiscient of the riffs from Den of Infamy. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics are probably a little unfitting for the genre/s and even less relevant to the titles, such as (from Skinwalkers):
Impetus at face value, will and weapon on the people
the walk of snipes in the plague of age
Now I'm not sure what the meaning behind Skinwalkers is, but those lyrics make it even less clear. But, they do sound good when screamed over a microphone in the traditional 'metalcore semi-growl', which by the way is a nice deep growl and even pretty coherent and not like the unlistenable growls of more mainstream acts like Trivium.
The singer doesn't really show much off apart form his growling, but he does have a rather explosive scream in the beginning to Unleash Carnage. In a melodeath album though, its surprising not to hear any clean singing, even The Haunted and Dark Tranquility, though its more of a nice edge than a necessity. A decent output. // 6
Overall Impression: Overall, its a stonker of an album from a stonker of a band. They've always remained behind the limelight and have barely toured outside of Seattle and its a shame to see the split up before they really made it big.
The album has had a definate impact on me, its changed my view of the more banal sounds of commercial metalcore to a more appreciating one. Half of my friends are honest-to-goodness metalheads and none of them have turned the album down.
If I were to lose the CD, it wouldn't matter with todays wonders of hardrives and USBs. But its a very rare one to find in the shops, best off buying online, as Himsa were a rather underground act.
To compare the sound to someone else is a little redundant as no other band really has the sound, but the closest I could say is Devildriver with much more aggresion and just as much more melody.
The things I don't really like and sometimes hate is the rather awkward change some songs go from melodic to blistering, such as right after the intro of Skinwalkers, you'd expect it to lead to a melodic riff rather than the one thats played. Another thing is the breakdowns.. while some are expected and not too bad, theres a point where they become annoying to listen to. But the small niggly bits aside, it doesnt detract from the albums quality and musicianship. A truly outstanding effort from a band that should've been a little more famous. Do enjoy. // 8