Himsa - Hail Horror (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Hail Horror (2006)


Growing up, my parents always drilled two things into my head:

  1. You'll always be judged just as much by the company you keep, as by the person you hold yourself to be.
  2. Don't swallow the toothpaste.
Alright, maybe not so much number two. Number one, however, is something that 20 years into life, I've already realized could not be more true. In life, and in music, the same general idea exists, as a band like Himsa has been avoided by myself because of the names of bands I consistently hear them associated with: As I Lay Dying, Bleeding Through, My Heart Is on the Blade of Your October Romance, and I'm sure countless others that infuse the metal stylings of At the Gates with some bland chugga-chugga hardcore.

However, after hearing Hail Horror, and giving this quintet their fair shake after all these years of shunning them, I came away with two immediate thoughts. One being, they're far better than I expected, the second, however, being that it's still boring music. They've got the mechanics down pat enough to be a formidable band on the metal scene, but the combination of long-winded song structures and the lack of any true diversity slows their attack a bit. Let their be no confusion, this band is talented, they just need a little bit better of a grip on how to retain a listener's attention. Singer Johnny Pettibone sounds like too many other metalcore vocalists, getting by on the same raspy delivery over the same double-bass drumming and occasional guitar squalls. Your foot might tap, your head might bob, but inevitably, the band finds themselves in that very same rut occupied by a myriad of others.

The one really bright spot through it all is the performance of axeman Kirby Johnson. A lot of the riffing, as exemplified in the start of "Pestilence," is pretty invigorating. The rich and lighting fast tones start the song off firmly on the correct foot, but it's really not long before the same tired rhythm section comes in and dulls the edges off what started rather sharply. The chord progressions that opened the track can be heard weaving in and out of the songs structure at various other instances, but it's not enough to pull the picture firmly into focus. Songs like "They Speak in Swarms" are just too damn derivative, and too damn close even to other songs on the very same record.

Certainly not as much of a chore to listen to as most of their kin, Himsa provide, mostly by way of Thompson's riffs, some interesting moments on this record. Those moments are unfortunately too sporadic, and just too few however, at least for my tastes. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would stamp this with a seal of approval. You could do much worse.