Shai Hulud - Reach Beyond the Sun (Metal Blade)

Attention Young People! This is how it's done...
Release Date: 
17 Feb 2013 - 11:30pm

There’s something unnervingly insidious about American veterans Shai Hulud. On the face of it, they batter away, purveying a sort of uber-sleek synthesis of NYHC, old thrash metal and the odd touch of Leatherface style snub-nosed noise; It’s a thunderous maelstrom of trebly, snare-driven cacophony that seems to pass through you in a hail of sturm und drang without causing much of a ripple to your general wellbeing and equilibrium. 

Then you listen a second time and FUCK MY OLD BOOTS but those gang choruses are in you brain, locked right in, for posterity, already. It’s amazing, and a stunning testament to the songwriting skills of all involved that this happens. Once you’ve recovered from the shock of being so totally taken in, ther’s nothing left to do but to sit back and enjoy the whole thing.  Actually sitting back doesn’t seem to be the correct response to such a thrilling exposition of heavy music, so best if you just tie down any valuables in the living room, crank the stereo up and let nature take it’s course.

Human Failing is a case in point; In the hands of young people this might just be seen as a better-than-usual slab of scream emoting. In Shai Hulud’s keeping the song becomes a stentorian call to arms and, it has to be said, a lesson to all the young pretenders about just how you go about this kind of thing. The Mean Spirits, Breathing extends the theme and compounds the bleeding your ears are now suffering. An absolutely enervating emulsion of all those disparate strands I mentioned earlier, it is Shai Hulud in excelsis;  returning vocalist/producer Chad Gilbert absolutely couldn’t sound angrier, his hoarse throated bellow augmented by those joyous gang vocals come ‘chorus’ time and some top notch riffage courtesy of the always-impressive Matt Fox, a man who seemingly manages to get the technical and the primitive to coexist simultaneously in the savage soulfulness of his guitar playing in a way few others can manage. I’m running out of superlatives and we ain’t even half way through the album yet…

And that’s a shame, because if anything Reach Beyond the Sun seems to get even better on the back nine, with the absolutely, um, monumental Monumental Graves completely reaffirming one’s faith in the ability of this kind of music to move hearts, minds and bowels in equal portion (that’s a complement by the way). I honestly feared this sort of punk-infused metal long dead save for the odd bit of nostalgic prodding from bands who shall remain nameless and have seen their best days leg it with the takings long since;  To be a part of Shai Hulud’s continuing existence – their continued  evolution - even as a passive bystander, is a privilege and a treat, just like this album.