(NCS contributor Austin Weber reviews the new album by Spain’s Hybrid.)
The sickening debut by Wormed on Planisphaerium was a stunning experience, one that stuck with me and was replayed often. A couple years after its release in 2003 I felt a curious need to check Metal-Archives.com and see if any members of Wormed had side-projects. Which led me straight to Hybrid, a band that at the time included one of the founding (and still current) Wormed guitarists, J. Oliver, alongside guitarist Miguel Angel aka Migueloud (Human Mincer), who coincidentally joined Wormed after quitting Hybrid.
Upon finding out about Hybrid, I had to grab their debut The 8th Plague. On their debut they sounded like industrial-influenced technical death metal, with a penchant for punishing, thick grooves, mathcore moments, and a fetish for grindcore flourishes. As if that wasn’t enough diversity to create some off-kilter unique metal, they also had intriguing use of both sax and synth while also possessing a skill for skronky discordant guitar-sounds.
On The 8th Plague they conjured sounds both alien and cold, owing more than a nod to the legacy of Gorguts. The hard-hitting and ever-switching drumming by Chus Maestro was the driving force of the album and not just an anchor for the guitars. He graced the album with constantly shifting patterns and abrupt changes in tempos, often switching between grind patterns and Latin jazzy playing to keep things interesting.
As we all know, line-up changes can either make or break a band. The experience is especially difficult when groups go through this after having released something that was well received. The shift can lead either to a loss of vitality or to an invigorating injection of newfound energy. So when Hybrid lost both the Wormed guitarists after the release of The 8th Plague, I was worried about the effect on their unique sound.
Now fast forward to 2013 and Hybrid are dropping their sophomore release, Angst, with two new guitarists: Ivan Duran and Antonio Sanchez. These two are every bit as talented and diverse as their predecessors. In fact, despite replacing both guitarists, the band sounds remarkably similiar to their debut, in both their wonky compositional structure and sonically by drawing from a similar framework of styles that are then experimentally conjoined. But this is no repeat of The 8th Plague. It feels looser and more organic, whereas the last record had a harsh mechanical tone and atmosphere. They still love to stack opposing tempos and ideas in a schizophrenically dizzying manner, making their constant push and pull dynamic a huge part of their identity. Few can so skillfully layer genres with such a creative grace as Hybrid does.
The biggest change between Angst and the band’s debut comes in the form of a more pronounced mathcore influence that also ups the jazz and Latin elements while allowing them to breathe fluidly. There is a huge shift in the vocals, too. Gone are the growls and mid-ranged bellow, replaced by vicious, gnarly screams accented by a bit of singing on the end of “Enter The Void” and mixed with brief spoken words from time to time.
Beyond those changes, Angst also has a stronger emphasis on building up the music through elegant, atmospheric, entrenched pauses. Hybrid’s inclusion of outside instruments is nothing new, though they do use some interesting ones this time around, such as clarinet, sitar, didgeridoo, and keyboards, which add an additional flavor to the already interesting music.
Angst operates on a completely different level than most metal as Hybrid schizophrenically splinter all their diverse influences into conjoined hybrids, free of their genre constraints. I thought about doing a track-by-track, but decided against it because this music is far too dense, with an unhinged nature that thrives on coalesced sounds, to describe without sounding awkward and masturbatory. I will mention, however, that beyond the frenetic and diverse tracks that fill the album, Hybrid close out Angst with the outstanding monolithic-sized despair of “Doomed To Failure”, an epic lumbering beast of doom interspersed with djenty chugs and a nice drum groove. I rather like hearing how they’ve forced the two styles into a singular dreary collision. Later in the song, out of nowhere, some trippy sitar drops in for an extended solo, later backed by a noise soundscape accentuated by piano, and spoken words that trail off until the album ends.
Hybrid outdid themselves with Angst by diversifying beyond what they already did so well on their debut. Basically, what I’m trying to say is: Give this album a chance to blow your mind. Once you do and decide you like it, included in this post is a link to another project of Hybrid members called Fragments if you need another dose of spastic metal chopped up with a myriad of influences.
Angst can be purchased either digitally or on CD from Deepsend Records here.