posted on 9/2008 By:
Dictionary.com defines hackneyed as follows:
made commonplace or trite; stale; banal
With the band Hackneyed hailing from Germany and being, presumably, non-native English speakers, it is difficult to say whether they chose their name because it describes their music or because they thought it sounded cool because it had “hack” in it. Songs titles like “Gut Candy”, “Axe Splatter” and “Bone Grinder” make me suspect the latter. True, Hackneyed’s debut album Death Prevails (“Triumph of Death”?) is not going to set the death metal world on fire with its originality, but I would not call this band of youngsters (Average age: 16.) trite or stale, particularly when they display such a knack for writing catchy death metal.
Hackneyed’s style is a fairly simplistic blend of early european death metal in the vein of bands like Bolt Thrower and Unleashed and the more rhythmically intensive style of bands like Vader and Seance. Hackneyed cut loose with a blast beat on occasion, but for the most part, the band does not seem to be in much of a hurry. Most songs rumble along on the strength of chugging mid-paced riffs. This relatively relaxed pacing gives the songs’ shifting grooves a more dynamic feel than they might otherwise have at a more furious pace. The band has a fine ear for subtle melody making the songs more memorable, without robbing them of their aggression. Another strong point is Hackneyed’s ability to pick out their really good riffs and repeat them a few times rather than leap from riff to riff with nary a backward glance, as so many modern death metal bands tend to do. This practice helps give their songs a strong individual identity.
With vocalist Phil barking out the lyrics in a fairly standard death growl, bassist Alex playing it pretty straight and guitarists Devin and Ix (Yeah, I know, what the hell kind of name is Ix?) forgoing guitar solos, drummer Tim seems to be the resident showboat. Tim has a serious case of happy feet, tapping out near constant double bass, and a plethora of tasty fills, but he possesses a good enough feel for the music to know when to rein it in.
The production on Death Prevails conveys Hackneyed’s performance adequately. The guitars are thick and chunky, but articulate. The snare and toms sound a bit “small” at times, but the bass drums have enough heft to give the songs the punch they need. The bass is felt more than heard, except on the few occasions when the rest of the band drops out, and that is fine for this style of metal.
Hackneyed’s grasp of dynamics and melody puts them on the cusp of creating truly memorable songs, but they do not really have a sound that they can call their own, yet. However, they are very young and show a lot of potential. Given time, I am sure Hackneyed could develop into a potent death metal force. As it stands though, Death Prevails is a solid, meat and potatoes death metal record and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
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