To look at the debut EP from London quintet Hacktivist is to take a real examination on the way that all forms of music has advanced in the past few years. You have to examine the youthful, more richly textured take on progressive metal that has formed in the beloved "djent" scene and you have to look at the way that electronics and hip hop has been bubbling in the UK underground scene to give the grime style an extreme edge that would never get any artists that practiced it in it's true form a spot in the singles charts. The idea of bringing together a union of the two styles seems ludicrous. But this isn't a band that thinks so.
Now obviously, the idea of rap metal isn't new and in the constant wave of new deathcore bands, there has been some evidence of certain bands with frontmen choosing to throw us back ten years by unleashing their inner Fred Durst *coughs* Emmure *coughs* Deez Nuts *coughs*. But Hacktivist are truly putting something new and fully extreme on the table here. Formed by former members of Heart of a Coward, a band doing the rounds for genuinely heavy progressive metal in Britain, meeting with vocalist J Hurley an aspiring grime artist, the band have fused their styles together as you can immediately hear from the start of New Age, a hopelessly apt title expressing exactly what bands like this are trying to introduce, which opens with a tensely toned backdrop crafted on airy synthesizers creating misty atmospheres of sorts, before the intense djent breakdowns slam into action accompanied by the intense rapping between Hurley and Ben Marvin. And with heaviness coming from both aspects and backed by the overwhelmingly powerful backing texture weaved together by the guitar and electronic arrangements by Timfy James, the music does really send you beyond the feeling of being sat down in earphones.
Throughout the album the band effortlessly reveal their ability to be on top of their game in all they do. Hurley and Marvin's rapping on Unlike Us and Cold Shoulders is spat out with a razor edged ferocity and speed that perfectly compliments the sharp grooves of James. And with a scathing attitude from their rapping, it almost sounds as heavy as the Meshuggah sized guitars and basslines of Josh Gurner. Cold Shoulders in particular is a fine demonstration in just how dramatic and awe-inspiring the band's songwriting can be as the rapping and soaring melodies from James are carried off with a sweat-inducing urgency and breathtaking sense of woe as the band's lyrical assaults on society reaches it's peak.
While Blades and the band's eponymous track are also similarly breathtaking but overall do little to divert from the style of the rest of the EP, being similarly awash within in-your-face rapping, immersive backdrops and blasting electronics that break the riffs apart to emphasise how heavy the entire music really is.
But a problem of repetition with music like this really isn't that big a problem because the entire EP is an immense gathering of something entirely new, fresh and a spectacular representation of the advancement of UK music in fields of metal and hip hop. It's heavy in both the powerhouse crushing of progressive grooves and the pulsing vigor of Hurley and Marvin's energetic rapping. And with this combination of filth, immersive wonder and headbang-inducing blasting, Hacktivist really are taking us into the future.
Hacktivist's Hacktivist is out now via self-release.