(In this post, long-time reader and previous guest contributor VyceVictus provides his take on the debut EP by Hacktivist, which is now up on Bandcamp.)
After much anticipation and consternation, Hacktivist have finally dropped their debut EP. I had a rough outline for my guest review of the new record in the works, but after seeing TheMadIsraeli’s wonderfully astute and concise evaluation of the matter, I concluded there really isnt much more to deliberate. You either like the sound or you don’t. Even so, Hacktivist hit me hard and left me with a couple lingering ideas that I think are worth addressing.
I indicated once before how I am a lifelong supporter of “Real” Rap Metal, so I was pleased to see a modern band approach the idea with sincerety and fresh elements. The lyrics aren’t necessarily gonna set the streets on fire or anything, but the ideas seem thought out and the dual vocal attack delivery is tight and flows well.
The grooves are indeed immense and immediate, the licks are quick, and the djently djenting djent of the guitar attack djentrify the songs codjently and concisely. Djent. I am not a musician or professional critic. That word means nothing to me, but it sure does seem to grind peoples’ anuses the wrong way (is there a right way to grind anuses?). All I know for sure is that the guitar structures are pretty sick and make me bang my head.
The one thing in particular that caught me off guard is that as these guys are from the UK; their accent is prominent. Frankly, rap with “foreign” accents has always sounded weird to me. It reminded me of the first time I heard Dizee Rascall and found him so offputting, but eventually got used to it since he goes pretty hard. In that regard, Hacktivist are elevated beyond simply rap metal or djent; in my mind they are in the special category of “world/foreign extreme music”, where bands incorporate different cultural elements into metal. A good number of these bands get featured at NCS: Kartikeya, D-Fe, and the gamut of Middle-Eastern artists featured in the METALITY compilation to name a few.
The UK aspect also reminds me of another unique band whose signature sound is the blending of various disparate sounds. Skindred play a form of Reggae-punk-metal the likes of which no one else can really lay claim to. Though it may be premature to compare Hacktivist to such an A-Grade band, I believe that the sonic niche that Hacktivist are carving out for themselves is definitely in the same spirit.
I don’t believe this will be the impetus for a new novelty sub-genre. We spoke in depth on the pros and cons of sub-genre classifications not long ago, and while I think classification has its merits, I refer to music by its creators, not some restrictive label. Do bands like Mastodon, Gojira, Rage Against the Machine, Muse, or Death Grips really fit into a genre or are they genres unto themselves? No one else out there is like Hacktivist. Perhaps you think Rap-Djent is a novelty, but these guys are definitely no joke. Besides, at least they aren’t…..this…..: