Shai Hulud
Misanthropy Pure

So last spring, Metal Blade cock teased me to no end by including a post card with “Coming in 2007-new Shai Hulud album!” on it, and I’ve pretty much had a boner for it ever since, as Shai Hulud is one of my favorite bands ever since their arguable involvement in developing the current modern metalcore movement along with Unearth, Poison the Well and Prayer For Cleansing in the mid to late 90’s.

To those new to Shai Hulud (named after the giant sand worms from Frank Herbert’s Dune books), who briefly changed their name to The Warmth Of Red Blood while on hiatus, they are a very hard act to encapsulate, so much so that the bands self prescribed “metalcorechestration”, seems to be the only fitting term. Basically imagine Arsis playing metalcore/hardcore; progressive, heavily layered, complex (though not techy jagged complex but more ‘busy’) and chaotically melodic with barely a breath between notes styled metalcore with emotion drenched lyrics. No breakdowns, no tough guy prose, no gang chants, no chest thumping machismo, no simple verse chorus structures.

So here it finally is, only the third full length album from one of metalcore’s least prolific but way worth the wait acts. Of course, even with the requisite line up shuffle from 2003’s That Within Blood Ill Tempered, Misanthropy Pure is the brainchild of the two Matts (guitarist Fox and bassist Fletcher) who are joined by servicable, cut and paste bellower Matt Mazelli, who replaces former vocalist Geert Van Der Velde, and it has the bands influential, signature sound that the likes of Misery Signals, Sleeping by the River, It Prevails, Life In Your Way, Foredirelifesake, Means and many others have since cloned. However, it should be stated those bands don’t deliver the material with quite the feral urgency of Shai Hulud, despite the fact the band seems to have calmed down a tad.

Either way, this is immediately identifiable as Shai Hulud; impossibly unfollowable guitars strain and squeal with disorganized yet harmonic zeal, if more times than not at a surprisingly restrained pace. And that’s where I stumble a bit with this other wise stellar ‘comeback’. Despite being chock full of utterly mesmerizing guitar work and structures that simply defies description beyond ‘chaotically uplifting’, there’s actually a lot of ‘downtime’ on this record.

Brief opener “Venomspreader” sets the tone with barely a two minute flurry, but then “The Creation Ruin” opens the door to the albums overall, more restrained mood and delivery. That’s not to say its ‘slow’, it’s just Shai Hulud, but on a small dose of Valium, and that tone surfaces frequently on the album amid the more discordant, triumphant harmonics that come in well placed spurts. The title track is a perfect example of the album’s dichotomous nature-featuring arguably the most evocative yet commercial riff of the bands career in the chorus, it also wanders around said riff too much, rather than dwelling on it -as is Shai Hulud’s M.O. Other tracks that seem to lack urgency include the initially galloping “We Who Finish Last”, “Chorus of the Dissimilar”, and “In the Mind and Marrow” (despite a brief but rousing injection) which all appear early in the album, coming alarmingly close to derailing the comeback.

However, the last half of the album seems to up the urgency and melody, and ‘come together’ while managing to deliver the Hulud’s, apparent new found restraint; “To Bear the Brunt of Many Blades” -is just that- a dervish of riffs, a rousing chorus, both slow and fast-both rending. “Four Earths” is the epitome of the control vs chaos approach the albums early throes are gunning for, but this time nails it. “Set Your Body Ablaze” is reworked track one of the bands splits with Another Victim and shows as its immediately identifiable as the bands trademark rending, layered tone as is the more fierce penultimate track “Be Winged” and ambitious closer “Cold Lord Quietus” which end the album on a trio of breathtaking tracks, fitting the Hulud name.

Admittedly Misanthropy Pure is no Hearts Once Nourished or That Within, but it is still a Shai Hulud album, and an album that might possibly give a tired genre somewhat of a spark, and considering the bands lack of output, I’m just grateful for that.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 3rd, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I remember these guys from a Tooth & Nail/Solid State comp I had years ago, which is how I got into Zao (around Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest) – never really checked these guys out but based on your description I think I have some catch up to do.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Id start with That Wihtin Blood Ill Tempered.


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul
  4. Commented by: Stiffy

    This is actually my first album by these guys and I love it. Progressive shit!


  5. Commented by: Jess Max

    I disagree with this review. This album is unquestionably Hulud’s most urgent, harsh and uncompromising. That WIthin has much more “downtime” than Misanthropy Pure, and by a long-shot. Good to know Erik likes the album, but he sure missed the mark in describing it. Again, by a long-shot. Great album. Im for one, am thoroughly pleased.


  6. Commented by: swampthang

    eh radio station near me kept playing there songs on the radio. i thought they were boring but thats my opinion nways dudes check out my The Funeral Pyre review of Wounds on http://www.metal-archives.com cuz its ridiculously sweet for my first review


  7. Commented by: Joe

    I remember in my formative metal years (dig my accidental Atheist reference) the word about these guys. I checked out something or other by them after i had heard their cover of damage inc. Didn’t really “get” them then, but at least i have the privilege now to sort of know how this metalcore genre became so horribly misguided.

    These guys were the blueprint that should have been followed. Hardcore sincerity (like that straight edge hardcore band my brother plugs so hard Have Heart) and some good metal guitar playing. Metalcore. What went wrong? I also remember Luti-kriss. Perhaps you’ve heard of those guys as well.

    They might have changed their name somewhere down the line.


  8. Commented by: fightingmike

    I love this band and i really like this while i am listening to it, but nothing is catchy enough for me to remember it afterwards. That Within Blood Ill Tempered has better songs in my opinion.


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