Achilles prove they may be upstate New York's most genre-bending, worthy-of-our-time metal/hardcore act around with their sophomore full-length, Hospice.
Hospice is assuredly a step up from the also excellent The Dark Horse, which combined some of the best aspects from heavy but ambitious acts like Botch and Breather Resist. Achilles seem to forge their own territory here, diversifying their sound and concentrating less on atmospherics and more on a heavy base, mixed up tempos and interchanging riffs. "We Are Fixtures" is one of the best examples of this, in addition to being possibly Hospice's best track; Rory Vangrol (also of How We Are) kicks it up a notch repetitively screaming "wake up, wake up! We're losing everything!," and leads the charge perfectly -- rarely has Achilles sounded this urgent, while the band floor the listener with a breathtaking sense of dynamics.
As it's comparatively soothing in regards to the rest of Hospice, "Dear Old Tyger That Sleeps" represents Achilles' new "quiet side"; Pelican-like riffs soar and crash, while Vangrol roars like he was Aaron Turner's brother. At 2:32, it's definitely an economical representation of that Hydra Head post-metal style, but Achilles does it extremely well all the same.
Even on The Dark Horse there was a sense of restraint running through Achilles' songs, but its vibe seems to be refreshingly retooled here. On another of Achilles' standout efforts, "Standing Night," the band seem to take cues from the monstrous, epic hardcore of bands like the ever-influencing Modern Life Is War, yet retain their own identity with the song's dangling bassline, riffs that echo and bounce off each other, and the Poseidon-esque boom of "cities burn and tides will rise!."
If that's not enough, "In These Stark Halls" is a 47-second tear-through that might recall, for some, Vangrol's other band, or frankly any band that plays perfect bursts of balls out, ridiculously intense hardcore.
Hospice is an astoundingly diverse and strong followup to Achilles' overlooked debut. Distinct, all-around solid and constantly ferocious, Hospice is a thirty-minute must for those seeking a healthy dose of artistry and effort with their heavy listening.
src="/images/icons/review_mp3.gif" align="top" width=16 height=16 border=0/>We Are Fixtures
src="/images/icons/review_mp3.gif" align="top" width=16 height=16 border=0/>The Cold Floor