There are not to many prejudices I hold when it comes to music. But usually when I pick up an album by a European band, I assume by default that there’s going to be something or the other about the record that would specifically prick my ears. This serves as both a disappointment and a reward. Hacride had grabbed my attention with the music video for “Perturbed”, the first single off their album “Amoeba”, to the extent that I took it upon me to get well-rehearsed with their entire body-of-work, but more on that later. Gradually when “Back to Where You Have Never Been” was announced I made it a point to make sure I do not miss out on this one.
Hacride are Adrien Grousset on Guitars, Benoist Danneville on Bass and the latest addition to their ranks, Florent Mercadet on Drums and vocalist Luiss Roux. “Back to Where You Have Never Been” boasts of 10 tracks and is their first work in 4 years, and the 5th full length. Production duties have been handled by Frank Hueso, who took care of the same for Hacride’s back catalogue, and Marc Casanova.
The album opens with the track “Introversion”. Not quite the album-opener one would expect given their previous albums, but nevertheless a nice touch. Luiss Roux demonstrates not only a wider vocal range than former vocalist Samuel Bourreau, he intersperses it with equally piercing growls as well. The second track features a hard hitting verse riff that is complemented by new drummer Florent Mercadet’s relentless skin-slamming. The compositional maturity is reflected in Luiss Roux’s work with the chorus. “Synesthesia” is an instrumental. While nothing out of the ordinary, it cannot be checked off as filler material either since it showcases the more accessible elements of Hacride’s sound, the newer influences over the older Technical/Progressive Death ones.
“Overcome”, the 4th track, a personal favourite off the album, is another track that highlights what Luiss Roux brings to the table; sample the clean/spoken section at the bridge section for this. Lyrically the band has maintained their ground, mainly discussing self-introspection and other such relative themes. “Edification of the Fall” is another stand-out track from the album. Featuring what seemed like minimal Industrial elements and an equally intriguing bridge section, this track summarizes the present Hacride sound best.
“Back to Where You Have Been” definitely witnesses the coming of age of a band that had been toiling away in relative obscurity. Hacride have both harnessed the means to play to their strengths and achieve what they can within it. With the 4th full length “Lazarus” comprising of the 15-minute long juggernaut, it became quite obvious that this band was capable of churning out intuitive compositions; the remarkability could not be judged by just one category such as technical prowess or brutality. When a band like Hacride is placed under the microscope they offer up a lot of different criteria to judge by. And they just proved their capability by somewhat taking a detour from the well-traversed musical path they had been following up until “Lazarus”. One would not go so far as to call this their magnum opus, because undoubtedly it is too early in their career, but “Back to Where You Have Never Been” is a milestone nevertheless and is probably responsible for putting the band on the map, a tad bit more than the previous records had.
In a country where a band of Gojira’s stature sets the bar for everything that remotely aspires to be heavy music (not to mention other stalwarts such as Gorod, Dagoba and newcomers Atlantis Chronicles), Hacride deserve way more credit than they are already given. And that statement has nothing to do with the fact that they have been around for more than a decade now. Also, having witnessed their 4-way menacing stage presence at the Calcutta leg of the “Back to Where You Have Never Been India tour”, it would be safe to say that the alteration in half of their former line-up which most of their old fans have gotten accustomed to, has not affected their musicianship at all. Hacride are back in the thick of action, with a rehashed avatar, more avant-garde if not progressive or even technical. This is raw, solid French groove at its best.