When a band hits a home run on their debut album it is often hard for them to improve when it comes to album number two. Thus it is with interest that I pick up a copy of Hark's second offering, Macinations to see if they can repeat, or better yet improve on, 2014's Crystalline.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the aforementioned debut, big tours supporting legendary acts like Prong and Black Tusk, plus big festival appearances including 2016's Bloodstock Open Air and Damnation events. In addition to this, the band has expanded from a three piece with Joe switching from bass to a second guitar slot alongside frontman Jimbob and Tom Shortt stepping in to fill the vacant four string role.
The line-up changes have certainly made a difference from the off; opening track Fortune Favours the Insane offers a deeper all round sound anything from their debut, slick and uncompromising. The whole album has a feel to it of Blind/Deliverance era Corrosion of Conformity but with an added edge and darker feel. The bass line boom’s with a hint of Sabbath thrown in; a theme which continues through the second number on the album, Disintegrate.
Simon Bonwick's drum intro on Nine Fates is sublime, along with some of the finest guitar work on the album you get one of the many tracks on this record you can get completely absorbed by. The stand out for me is Transmutation, the dual guitar sound really comes to the fore here and the thunderous backline compliments Jimbobs vocals in this barnstormer of a song.
One of the many things I love about this album is the overall sound encompassed in each and every track. It’s hard to define the sound and put it into words, certainly you can’t pigeon hole it into any specific genre. Every new riff represents a different influence from a different segment of the heavy metal spectrum from stoner rock, to thrash, hardcore, and a large dollop of prog thrown in.
For all us old schoolers, flipping to side two of the record is just as strong the first side; something many albums lack is a strong second side, but Hark delivers yet again. Sons of Pythagoras opens the B side and this one really does display some progressive elements to open and then demonstrates the sound cross over with thrashy sounding riffs and a stoner base tone.
Whilst my words may not do the recording justice, this really is a delight on your ears. It’s not often you find an album you can get completely lost in and from the start you can drift into the imagery the music creates and forget the world around you. Machinations is the best 47 minutes of music released this year (so far), a complete all round success which I wholehearted recommend.
Hark are heading out on tour of this album over the coming months with a splattering of UK dates and a full tour of Europe. As much as I think this album is good, you’ve heard nothing until you see them live, make sure you take the opportunity to check them out. You will not be disappointed.
Machinations is released Febuary 24th through Season Of Mist records