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Monday, November 1, 2010

Album Review: Chickenhawk - Modern Bodies

If, like me, you find Chickenhawk to be an oddly familiar moniker, then one flick through wikipedia may prove just why. It's been used as a descriptive slang word, in ornithology to describe not just one, but three species of North American bird, in gay culture to describe an older male who prefers younger male partners, or as a U.S. political term to criticise a bureaucrat who supports military action yet avoids serving himself.

The truth can be traced back to the writer Robert Mason and his experiences in the Vietnam War or, as the band put it, the moment when the man himself told them "in some drunken bathroom incident". Fair enough. It matters little when you actually whack up the volume on Chickenhawk's new album and brace yourself as this spasmodic screamo bull threatens to buck you clean over the fence. Its riotous crowd of chiming piercing harmonics, butch chugs, clattering cymbals and chaotic snare strikes is both maddeningly catchy and utterly overwhelming. The furiously spiking intro of 'The Pin' and its hammered pick-ups is a perfect example of the amount of muddied backwash that leaks into the foreground to create this wall of violence that this genre-hopping quartet are thriving on.

Where their debut album, 'God Helmet', left us namechecking Dillinger Escape Plan and Mr. Bungle, 'Modern Bodies' feels more like a mixture of Ghost Of A Thousand, Cancer Bats and Kong with a big old hit of The Melvins thrown in for good measure - 'My Name Is Egg', for instance, burns with the latter's colossal presence, whilst 'Kerosene' digs its heels into a groove so deep it threatens to break through to the other side. Punk sensibilities power the shit-throwing and gang chant of 'Bottle Rocket', whilst 'The Let Down' draws deep on the stoner pipe until the mind-bending, semi-distant vocals start to vibrato back in on themselves. The vibe is constantly warping, dragging you this way and that, inevitably resulting in a little loss of cohesion - the multi-part 'NASA vs ESA' and 'Son Of Cern' dive a little too deep into cymbal overload and multi-part curiosity.

Interestingly, this band come from Leeds. The same hometown where curiously a band called The Plight hail from. Both formed around the same time, both throw themselves on punishing touring schedules, both have cultured a similar clash of butt-clenchingly brutal first-wave screamo and wildly inventive heavy rock, and, judging by the shining glory of their sophomore albums, both are destined for startlingly bright futures.

Also online @ MTUK = http://www.metalteamuk.net/oct10reviews/cdreviews-ch.htm

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