Californian band Hail The Sun have been knocking around for a few years now with their debut, the brilliantly titled POW Right In The Kisser being self-released back in 2010. They have always seemed to me at least a band with an intriguing set of influences and styles that have never quite meshed together over an entire album. Latest release Mental Knife (Equal Vision) is set to change all that and then some.
There are so many ideas and elements clashing together here all at once you’d swear the band were going to implode under the sheer intensity and weight of the music. ‘Gouge & Uproot’ starts with a lush vocal intro from vocalist Donovan Melero before lurching into some post-Hardcore screams and driving drums. But no sooner has it started then the song finishes, the brevity of not only this track but also the whole album was a surprise. Upon hearing the songs for the first time you might expect the band to more self-indulgent, but they use their time wisely and to great effect.
There is an unhinged quality when things start to get heavier, too, as at the drop of a hat the whole band will just start playing out of their skins, as if their lives depended on it. This energy is again backed by the raw screams of Melero as Mental Knife effortlessly shifts from emo-tinged musings to all-out aggression in the blink of an eye. The vocal range on display is akin to Daryl Palumbo from hardcore legends Glassjaw.
‘Suffocating Syndrome’ really shows off how good the musicianship is, I couldn’t keep count of the time changes the song had and the guitar work in particular begs to be taken notice of. ‘Arcane Justice’ is a more sombre affair and has a real sneer to it, the ebb and flow is really something to behold. The more progressive songs are really where this album flourishes, the guitar work of Aric Garcia on ‘A Lesson In Lust’ has a really signature feel to it, like you’d know what a Hail To The Sun would sound like just from one riff or solo. On this track I was really reminded of At The Drive In maybe down to that unhinged quality to the music more than anything else.
Oh and if he wasn’t talented enough already, Melero is also the bloody drummer on this thing, some people are so talented it makes you sick…….
Hail The Sun will rightly get a lot of praise for Mental Knife, fans of progressive music will drool over the musicianship and complex nature of the songs, whilst post-Hardcore fans and fans of heavier music will also find much to satiate their needs as matters are progressive but not to the point where anyone one idea or song ever feels like it’s dragging its heels. It’s a really tough balancing act blending these two genres together but the band succeeds in so many ways and they deserve all the credit in the world.