Melbourne’s Hadal Maw made waves in the Australian metal scene with their Senium debut in 2014. Although the album exhibited the band’s considerable potential through a frenetic blast of noisy tech-death, the compositions and production left ample room for improvement. Now the better part of three years later, following a change in vocalist, Hadal Maw return hell-bent on capitalizing on momentum established through their well-received debut and relentless touring. Shedding much of the technical death bluster from Senium, Hadal Maw have drastically retooled their sound for sophomore album, Olm. The speedier and more chaotic nature of the debut has been scaled back and remolded in favor of a hybridized vision of groove-centric modern death and atmospheric tech-metal. Significant stylistic shifts are often risky propositions fraught with danger, evidenced on the recently lambasted Aborym abomination. So how do these bright Aussie upstarts fare in their new guise?

Drawing influence from heavyweight acts Meshuggah and Gojira, Hadal Maw sound leaner, meaner and tighter than before, coming off confidently driven and energized in their new skin. Opener “Leviathan” kicks in with its ambient textures, mechanized drumming and off-kilter harmonies giving the listener an immediate glimpse into the darker territories Hadal Maw inhabit on Olm. Over a dense 46 minutes Hadal Maw keep the grooves rolling within accessible yet unpredictable song structures. These are built around chunky and dissonant guitar work, thunderous percussion and the occasional foray into quieter passages of introspection and ambient instrumentation, evidenced during the back-end of the energized “Failed Harvest.” New vocalist Sam Dillon plies his trade effectively enough, with his passionate raw throat delivery recalling a more strained Randy Blythe with a touch of Jens Kidman.

Despite the stylistic shifts undertaken, musically Hadal Maw continue crafting complex songs boasting excellent musicianship and interesting guitar work that treads a fine line of technicality, experimentation and groove. And when Hadal Maw free the beast and fuse their new formula with memorable songwriting and rugged hooks, this shit gets pretty damn entertaining. Case in point is the short, punchy burst of groovy dissonance and deathly hues emanating from the stop-start rhythmic bluster of the excellent “Witch Doctor,” or the deft mix of aggro groove, tech and thrashy death on “False King.” Later cuts “Simian Plague” and “Germinate” solidify the album’s strengths. The latter in particular hearkens back to their tech-death roots and takes some interesting twists without sacrificing cohesion. While Hadal Maw do occasionally go into navel gazing mode and show off their more sensitive side, they never let this aspect become too domineering or distracting in ways that could easily halt Olm’s stuttering momentum. They know how to keep things compact when required, as the blistering sub-two minute salvo of “Hyena,” complete with nifty guitar solo, attests.

Not all of the songs hit with the same potency of the stronger cuts, with a samey [Report to HR.Steel Druhm] feel creeping in from time to time, while overall the material mostly lands around the solid range of the quality meter. Still, Hadal Maw adroitly navigate their way beyond the more derivative elements of their sound and potentially djenty leanings, largely through their aggressive, calculated delivery and unpredictable songwriting. Certainly there’s plenty of room for further growth and improvement, but the lads are on the right track. Hopefully as the band further consolidate and evolve their sound, they can plug the gap between Olm’s strengths and weaknesses on their next release. The recording leaves an intentionally claustrophobic sonic imprint and though dynamically I would like to hear more breathing space and natural sounding drums, generally the tones and in-your-face crunch fits the album’s bleak mechanical vibe well.

Hadal Maw is a gifted band on the rise and Olm marks an interesting chapter in their budding career. With some fine-tuning and a more schizophrenic attack, I could imagine this newfound vision potentially occupying similar terrain to the excellent Ion Dissonance. Olm remains an intriguing creative left turn from Hadal Maw that’s consistently solid and interesting, yet feels like a transitional album and stepping stone towards greater things. Until then Olm is well worth checking out and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what the boys cook up next.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: EVP Recordings
Websites: hadalmaw.bandcamp.comfacebook.com/hadalmaw
Releases Worldwide: February 3rd, 2017

 

 

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  • AndySynn

    Been looking forward to hearing this one myself for some time.

    Serious question though – having not heard any of it myself yet, exactly HOW Gojira-y does it go?

    Obviously the big G have become a big influence on a lot of bands these days, but they’re also one of those bands whose influence can massively overshadow the band’s own sound if they’re not careful.

    Case in point – that new Fit For An Autopsy song doesn’t so much “take influence” as it does essentially lift whole riffs and vocal ideas straight from Gojira and shoehorns them into a standard FFAA song. It’s solid enough, but it really toes the line between “influenced by” and “totally ripped off”.

    Whereas the Gojira influence in someone like Sanzu is MASSIVE, but never sounds like a straight up copy, and bands like Rivers of Nihil take that same influence in a more subtle way.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      From my listens, it was Gojira-ish in the way Nero Di Marte are Gojira-ish. As in, rolling riffs and string ringing but not a clear rip-off like Sanzu. More Gojira in technique than actual sound; the band definitely leans more heavily on Meshuggah and Ion Dissonance with atmospheric tendencies of Vildjharta popping up from time to time. At least that’s what I thought.

      Gojira tend to prop up entire segments of songs with a single riff whereas these guys follow more conventional progressive riffing (conventional and progressive in the same damn line lmao). These guys (imo) are definitely drawing influence mores so than blatantly imitating. Hopefully this helps a little.

      • AndySynn

        That does help, thank you. I’ve got a pretty packed review slate at the moment, so I’m not sure when I’m going to get round to listening to it, but I’m looking forward to sampling it when I do!

        Though I did have to chuckle a little at the whole “different strokes, for different folks” feel I got from your comment, as:

        A) I wouldn’t really characterise Nero di Marte as “Gojira-ish” personally;

        B) I find Sanzu to be one of the few bands doing something actually interesting with their Gojira influence;

        C) I find Vildjharta to be much more of a carbon-copy of their influences than either of the bands mentioned above!

        Still, opinions, assholes, and whatnot!

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          Haha I don’t find NdM too Gojira-ish either, though they do certain things in a similar fashion, hence the comparison. I don’t feel this band is all that Gojira-ish like the likes of Sanzu and Hacride.

          I only remember listening to a couple of tracks off of Sanzu’s last album, might have to take another look. I do remember thinking to myself “oh, this sounds like Gojira”, before doing something else and forgetting about the band.

          And yea, Vildjharta do imitate pretty heavily, but I don’t find their atmospheric approach and use of the high register to be all that common among their key influences, and those were the main traits I was pointing to.

          Wouldn’t say this is breaking any new ground at all. Would probably be better off getting round to the likes of upcoming releases from Nightbringer or Acrimonious. Dem be interestin recordins indeed.

          • AndySynn

            Already got Nightbringer… ;-)

    • Luke_22

      Alpha beat me to it and did it well. Definitely not an overbearing rip off, more a reference point thankfully. They actually pulled off the style change quite well. It’s not especially original nor is it derivative.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Pretty sure every metal vocalist out of the East Coast of ‘straya is doing the demented, wide-eyes performance look these days. If the frontman is a skinny white dude with long hair, the chances of this being the case practically triples. Anyone care to explain the phenomenon?

    • Thatguy

      We don’t need long hair and we don’t have to be metal vocalists. It’s the default look of the Aussie male.

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      Not sure, but I do know that once the vocals started I had heard enough

  • hell yes, I loved their last album, glad to read about this today!

  • The embedded track isn’t bad at all, but those drums are too loud and transient-y.

  • SegaGenitals

    Anyone else hate the new Disqus ads which are popping up in the comments?!? I’d much rather support this site with some angrymetalguy merch!

    • [not a Dr]

      Hungry-Unicorn hats for everyone!