Heikousen’s debut album is a short, sharp musical shock, dealing out a brutal mix of hardcore, metal and not a few very pleasant surprises. There are multiple dimensions, ostensibly encapsulated within a heavy and aggressive framework; but look closer and you’ll find more than you might have expected. The dynamics of the album ebb and flow, as tempo moves from fast and angry through moments of melodic metal, to acoustic passages of reflective beauty.
The straight-ahead elements are here; aggressive vocals, harsh guitar, drums and bass. It’s loud, raucous musical mayhem that’s guaranteed to really get a crowd fired up. But there’s definitely something else: the musicianship is accomplished, delivering structures of complexity using more than just power chords. There is even some (whisper it) shred. Given a longer duration, each song could conceivably develop further, but as it is they are already bursting with ideas.
“Parallels” begins in suitably aggressive form, setting – one supposes – the tone for the rest of the album; a hardcore template to be applied to the remaining nine songs. The development, though, is much more interesting than that. Granted, aggression is the thread that runs through it, but it’s a thread that links many other things besides the very angry and the very loud.
Songs like “Shit Is The Business We’re In” and “Tax Fraud” deliver a confrontational listening experience, full of snarling energy and with one of the meanest bass sounds I’ve heard in a long time. Mid-way through the aforementioned “Tax Fraud” however, Heikousen mix things up a little with a more restrained section.
In these days when bands are unafraid to stretch themselves, to add different sounds to the mix and to allow influences from outside their particular genre to inform their music, Heikousen are no exception. “Savant Of Scum”, for example, uses fast, technical riffing then throws in an arpeggiated section for good measure. Other songs explore slower-paced sections, and snatches of melody amongst the teeth-clenched aggression. “Simulated Encounters With God” is entirely acoustic, composed of swirls of finger picked guitar. I always like to have an album for every mood; well here, Heikousen almost have a song for every mood.
“Parallels” is, then, an album of contrasting songs. Much of it is unapologetically heavy, angry and agitated, but with melody, light and shade thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, everything is bookended with hardcore – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but in between there are so many other reasons to give it time on your stereo.