There are few things in music that make me happier than when a band I reviewed a couple of years ago and thought was pretty good takes the next step and becomes great. And that’s exactly what just happened with HYBRID SHEEP and their new album Hail To the Beast (out now, Tenacity Music). Their debut Free From the Clutches of Gods had a lot of good stuff on it from a Death Metal standpoint, but it went to the metalcore screeching vocals well a little too often for me. However, I did say that if they toned down that crap they could be great. Well, on this record it seems as though my prayers have been answered, because the screeches come in very small doses.
Opening track “Warface” shows a band that is NOT here to fuck around. As a unit they are firing on all cylinders; the guitars are hyperactive, the rhythm section is tight, and the growls are fierce, as they should be. “Towards Ruin and Oblivion” hits with a flurry of musical punches and kicks, cutting you down to size, while “Following Blind Leaders” shows up as the first of my favorites on the disc. With a sledgehammer groove and some razor sharp guitar leads, this one had me at hello. This is immediately followed by another killer track in “The World Eater.” the way this thing builds and builds toward critical mass had my neck snappin’ and my fist pounding the desk at work.
Things take a total left turn for instrumental “The Last Breath of a Dying Earth” but in a good way. The somber arrangements go perfectly with the title, and it’s nice to see the band do something different and spread their wings a little. Plus, the intensity is still there, and the guitar work is just stellar. Which brings me to “Premature Burial”, which is simply outstanding on all fronts. The first time I heard this I was ready to flip a forklift HULK-style, it got me so riled up. I think this is the reason my boss keeps one hand on the tranquilizer gun at all times. Title track “Hail to the Beast” is the first one to really abuse the blast beats button in places, and the vocals drip with malicious intent.
The last song “Into the Lion’s Den” makes very much the same statement as “Warface” did, and that statement is this: HYBRID SHEEP didn’t come to play any fucking games. They are here to force their particular brand of Death Metal down your throats until your eyes water and you can’t breathe anymore. Hail To the Beast is an absolute piledriver of a record from a band that has not only improved, but made considerable leaps and bounds since their debut. At this rate I’m almost scared for album number three! This one is highly recommended for your collection, people. The Maestro approves!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Following Blind Leaders”, “The World eater”, “Premature Burial”, “Into the Lion’s Den”