Weekly Worship #15
If you haven’t listened to Hacksaw to the Throat before, you might expect them to be a down tuned Myspace Deathcore band, who vehemently refer to themselves as Grindcore. Fortunately, you’d be very far from correct in your assumption. I feel like the band and their 2007 release, Wastelands, have been overlooked, due partly to their unfitting name, partly to the fact that it wasn’t supported live as much as other albums that came out that year, and partly to the fact that the band seemingly doesn’t have much of a following. It sat just above Colors on my top five list that year. When I noticed that it hadn’t yet been reviewed, I figured that reviewing it late was better than never, and maybe some one somewhere would read this review and give it a chance.
Hacksaw to the Throat is commonly referred to as Progressive Death Metal, but they fit into the rawer, more serious-natured camp, relying heavily on post-rock and post-metal characteristics to develop moving pieces of music. I don’t mean this as much in an aesthetic sense as I do in a composition sense. I could have probably drawn allusion to the earlier Metallica releases as well. Regardless, this is one band in the Progressive Metal genre that has enough trust in the strength of their individual riffs to allow them to breathe and reach their peak before moving on. Though not the case with every single scenario, for the most part the rhythms and motifs stay relatively unscathed for long periods of time, and each additional idea that is incorporated is used more complimentary than anything, and only when they have fully peaked and reached a new direction do the riffs themselves change. This, hand in hand with some metal riffing that is engaging and moves along at a faster pace, creates a less formulaic sound overall. It is this approach that makes this album so successful. At time frenzied, at times subtle, at times calming, and at times lost somewhere in between, this album will take you on a journey like few others (without leaving you in a Saloon on the way there). It’s not as polished as its contemporaries, but it avoids self-indulgence, and always has somewhere to go next. Whether it is relying on repetition for suspense, tasteful soloing, or subtle riff manipulation, each song is an ever-evolving maze of effects and motifs, weaved together with purpose, and although nothing feels wrong or forced, it avoids sounding clinical. What impresses me more than anything about this album is that they touch on such a significant array of different heartstrings, but still put the attention to detail in each movement necessary to make it convincing on it’s own. I’m not saying that if they took every riff type they utilized and made an album full of it, I would buy it or enjoy it, I’m just saying that it never feels like they just said “Hey, man. We should put a clean part here so people can know how creative and different we are.”
There is only one drawback worth mentioning in my opinion. The vocals could have been a lot more varied. On an album that has such an expansive musical vocabulary and so much complexion, the vocals are stuck in monotone with only a few sonic phrases to murmur. The only two types of vocals that are present here are a gritty high scream, and a pretty fleeting and mediocre low growl. Not that anything is wrong with that, and I know I have credited this album with its ability to let some things breathe on their own, but at times it seems like they would’ve benefitted from trying out some other vocal approaches to coincide with the softer parts in the music.