As one who is generally not eager towards instrumental releases “Huxwhukw” from Australian avant garde metallers Serious Beak is a thoroughly impressive display of creativity and intensive sounds to excite and inflame the senses. “Huxwhukw” is a stunning blistering explosion of unpredictable unique metallic and progressive fusions veined by glorious discordance and inciting poly-rhythmic intrusions. Complicated without being inaccessible and eccentric without touching indulgence the album is a triumph that lingers and pleasures long after its last distinctly creative note enters the ear.
Serious Beak is made up of musicians from various bands consisting of guitarists Tim Brown (Squat Club) and Lachlan Dale (Adrift For Days), with bassist Andrew Mortensen (Slimey Things) and drummer Gene White (Squid). Together the quartet have conjured up a display of technical complexity and instinctive almost primal energy that twists and turns with jaw dropping quality, ingenuity, and senses teasing intent. Veined with mischief and humour the tracks expand and explode within the ear filling every corner of the senses with addictive mesmeric sounds.
Album title “Huxwhukw” comes from “…the supernatural long-beaked cannibal bird and servant to Baxwbakwalnuksiwe, the Cannibal-at-the-North-end-of-the-world in Kwakwaka’wakw mythology” (the Kwakwaka’wakw an indigenous group of people living in British Columbia on northern Vancouver Island and its surroundings). This mythical like essence seemingly lines and themes the album, the music providing and provoking one’s own visions and interpretations. The songs are rich in atmosphere and inspiring sounds, providing the listener tools to create their own back drop and landscapes to the music.
The mellow gentle caress of ‘Baxwbakwalanuksiwé’ opens proceedings, its enchanting guitars and grace pulling one in with beauty and flowing emotion. This leads into ‘Han’ the first track to properly unveil the force and real knee buckling glory within. From a similar controlled start to the opener it comes to life with chunky bass riffs and stirring impressive guitar explorations of the ear. As the song progresses the beefier and more agitated it becomes, the bass of Mortensen throwing its eager weight around with the rhythms of White punching through the inventive heavy guitars.
From this point “Huxwhukw” pours out torrents of undeniable imaginative addictive urgency and innovative sounds. ‘Swagger’ raises the tempo with a fusion of rock and crushing metal intensity, its discordant mix and unsettling melodies as incisive on the ear as being beaten with birch. The track sways with boastful contempt and surety in its skilled prowess. The slow building ‘Gödel !Xun’ swiftly takes over with further expressive sounds as it strolls with increasing intent and energy towards next track ‘Tuī / Tuō’, the point that the muscular side of the band becomes more apparent.
The track forcibly attacks the ear with the power of a controlled Meshuggah before investigating subdued avenues and melodic meanderings of gentle persuasion. Soon the urge to return to meatier roots takes over and the band shred flourishes of semi djent rhythms and harsh cutting progressive strokes upon the soul. In some ways it sounds like a meld of The Mars Volta, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Karnivool with flashes of Mastodon. Something the awesome ‘Anhrefn’ brings to the fore even more so, its time changes and mixed up rhythms completely hypnotic and spliced with a cheeky erratic polka like quaintness. Easily the best track on the album and almost repeated by following track ‘Sporãs’ with it’s Down I Go/Stump/Meshuggah discordant delights.
The outlandish aggressive ‘Lähendama’, the emotive atmospheric ‘Fljóta’ featuring the vocals of Canadian-Australian Brian Campeau, and closing frenzied ‘Taheu Nadryvy, Taneu!’ with pulsating moody basslines alongside schizophrenic guitars and melodies complete what is a stunning release. As soon as the last note disperses on “Huxwhukw” one is compelled to dive right back in, a sure sign of the triumph created by Serious beak.