It has been a great run on new albums so far this year so why not try another right? Hardside are a band I had never heard of previously which I originally assumed to be because they are new but it turns out they have actually been around for a good few years already. Here is hoping it lives up to the high standards set so far in 2015.
Hardside are listed as being a hardcore/metal band hailing from San Antonio in Texas. There 5 members listed only as Zane, Patrick, Ely, Ravy Bear and Sammy. The Madness is, I think, their 5th release and is under the label of BDHW Records.
The album itself has 10 tracks on it, all of which are relatively short with many sitting just under 3 minutes long although there are also 2 tracks that are above 4 minutes long which is essentially “epic” for a metal/hardcore band. In total length, the album is around 30 minutes long so is relatively short.
The album opens with a 1 minute long track called No One Gets Out Alive. It is purely instrumental and is essentially just a really good riff. The tone switches halfway through but the riff remains the same. There is a real sense of the bands influences coming out in this and if Phil Anselmo had been screaming over the top, it could be a Pantera song.
The first song leads directly into the second track seamlessly which is the title track, The Madness. The pace quickens a little but it still has a real groove feel to it. Vocals join in and are a mix of a natural sing/shout and deep guttural death metal style shouts. I love the pace of the track and it breaks down brilliantly into a brief solo and then head banging riff that plays out to the end.
Cage comes next and is less than 2 minutes long. It starts again with a groove inspired riff with little hardcore flashes showing through in sudden stops and starts but not enough to be annoying. Lyrics are furiously spat out through the verse over the same low chugging riff. The pace of the riff picks up near the end over the same shouted lyrics which play out right until the end of the track which stops suddenly with a shout of the word, Cage.
Track 4 is called Broken Faith. It starts with a drum roll followed by a rhythmic bass line. Guitars join in and continue the riff. A switch in the pace of the song occurs as the guitars slow down but the drums speed up which sounds particularly impressive. The non-death metal vocals lead through the verse and speed up as the song reaches its chorus. The chorus switches back to the death metal lyrics and leads into a great guitar solo. This in turn leads to an awesome bit of shredding and then back into the riff and vocals. The drums drop out for a bit as we have vocals shouted out over pure guitars. When they pop back in again, the song switches tones again and this time it plays out to the end.
Track 5 is Forever and starts off with a shredding guitar intro that is joined by drums part way through. This song is much quicker than the others so far and is mainly death metal vocals which are sporadically joined by clean ones. Between verses the song switches to a more groove metal style with plenty of head banging opportunities. After the second verse, that groove also leads into a guitar solo. Strangely though with 30 secs left the song seems to end and instead there is a strange little jazz/house sample played to end the track properly. Great song bar that weird ending.
Track 6 is called Resurgence and again starts with an excellent riff to nod along to. These guys definitely have no issues creating catchy rhythms. As vocals join, the speed ups and the talented drumming is particularly prominent. The verse is again the heavier vocals with choruses featuring a slowdown in pace and the cleaner vocals. The second verse starts and the pace and heaviness rises with it. It leads directly into a fast paced long solo played over the same really catchy riff. As the solo fades, the song switches to soft sung lyrics over a bass line for a few seconds before the heavy, groove riff takes over again. With 30 seconds left, the vocals come back in sounding more furious than ever through to the end.
Track 7 is called Till My Blood Runs Dry. It starts with a weird mix of high pitch guitar squeals and slower low toned notes but with intermittent fast rum rolls. The song is sung furiously over a really slow, drawn out riff. It really sounds very heavy but gets even heavier about half way through as the riff picks up the pace dragging every instrument with it including the lyrical pace. A short but really good track.
Track 8 is called Strays and again starts off with, what I now assume to be Hardside’s signature, a really chugging, groove metal riff. It leaps into the cleaner vocals at first here. They sound a little odd as they are sung slightly off pace with the drums. Angry vocals take over though and the pace of the song jumps frenetically to match the aggression. After two short verses, most of the rest of the track is the same riff but with variants such as guitars dropping out and leaving just bass and drums or drums dropping out and leaving the guitars and basses. Interesting idea that sounds good and keeps the riff fresh.
The penultimate song is called Unknown and is another really short one at just 1 minute and 45 seconds long. A riff to start with and thumping drums are slightly taken over by some hardcore styled stops and starts and breakdowns but with quite a small amount of this on the album, it actually keeps things a little fresh. All in all, it is quite a low toned, rhythmic number with a bit more hardcore influence.
The final track is also the longest on the album and is called Timebomb. It starts with a chugging riff but punctuated by a single high pitch note. Vocals are all heavy at the beginning through the verse over the same intro riff but a sudden breakdown in instruments switches the riff to a simplified drum beat over really slowed down guitars. Clean vocals join in as the guitar notes change to extended ones and then back to that initial riff over heavier vocals. The song switches up the riff and vocal style quite a lot but it sounds really good and fluid. A guitar scrape leads into a much faster section that seems to keep growing in pace and there is some spectacular drum beats going on. The song ends with a long riff which sounds very much like the riff at the end of Davidian by Machine Head which I assume could be a nod to another influence. It does change up though with some guitar soloing over the top of it making it feel pretty huge.
Considering I have never heard of this band, I am surprised by quite how good this actually is. You can really pick out influences on the album from Biohazard and Propane through to Pantera and Machine Head. Some of the riffs are phenomenally catchy and this band have a real talent for producing some excellent groove metal and I would argue that they are nowhere near the straight up hardcore sound they are categorised as but for positive reasons.
However, I do think that there are some moments of repetition here and that isn’t great on such a short album, not many but some. I also really don’t get the ending to Forever. They should have just cut the song 30 seconds earlier.
Those minor complaints aside, this is a very good album with lots going on in it and don’t be turned off by the “hardcore” tagline. It is much, much more than that. Great effort.
Hardside - The Madness (BDHW Records)