Friday, 7 March 2014

HARK - Crystalline - Album Review

Album Type:Album
Date Released: March 2014
Label: Season of Mist Records

Crystalline - track listing:

1. Palendromeda
2. Hounded By Callous Decree
3. Sins On Sleeves
4. Black Hole South West
5. Breathe and Run
6. Mythopoeia
7. Scarlet Extremities
8. All Wretch No Vomit
9. Xtal 0.6
10. Clear Light Of... (feat. Neil Fallon)


Welsh heavy rock power-trio HARK release their forthcoming Season of Mist debut, entitled ‘Crystalline’.

Angular riffing, pounding rhythms, and dually melodic and his unrelentingly ferocious vocals lead to galloping passages that show the maturity of a band far more honed than expected from a debut. The Welsh did not leave any detail to chance, but carefully crafted music, lyrics and visuals into an all encompassing concept. This diligence includes having their first full-length mixed by Kurt Ballou of Converge fame, who added a powerful yet crystal clear production to HARK‘s unique sound.

The album was recorded at Monnow Valley Studios in Wales (BLACK SABBATH, RUSH, JUDAS PRIEST, PORTISHEAD), and mixed by CONVERGE guitarist Kurt Ballou (CONVERGE, HIGH ON FIRE, KVELERTAK, YOUNG WIDOWS), and will hit the stores on March 14th in Germany and the Benelux, March 17th in the UK, France, and the rest of Europe, and March 18th in North America.

HARK has already released the 'Mythopoeia' 7” single, which they managed to sell out on tours with RED FANG and CLUTCH.The Welsh progressive-power-sludge trio carry TAINT's torch forward, passed on from their legacy that began in 1994. With fresh chops and almighty riff power, HARK continue to fuse punk attack with Sabbathian dirge, and decorate post-whatever angularities with classic rock flourish. While Isaac's vocals expand on his tried and tested palette, his lyrics continue to shatter prose with bleak metaphor and acerbic spittle. Made of the former WHYTELEAF rhythm section Nikolai Ribnikov and Simon Bonwick, the HARK engine bring an OCD approach to song craft, and endlessly creative pummel. Their dynamic chops and blood lust for riffs meld with Isaac's honed and equally determined musical vision.

The Band Members

Jimbob Isaac (Guitar/Vocals)
Nikolai Ribnikov (Bass)
Simon Bonwick (Drums)


HARK’s blistering debut album – Crystalline – is finally here. I have been looking forward to this album for a very long time. As I am a huge fan of Jimbob Isaac’s previous band - TAINT. The legendary Welsh Sludge Metal Band who won a considerable fanbase during their 16-year reign.

Now Jimbob is back with HARK. A new power-trio that is going to rule the Sludge/Stoner Metal for hopefully many years to come. As Crystalline is an unforgettable ride of Progressive Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs. HARK have released one of the most important debut records of 2014.

HARK’s sound has no boundaries. It’s a living and breathing entity that demands your full attention, co-operation and respect when the first note is struck on opening track – Palendromeda – which lays out HARK’s mission of intent for the albums 57 minute runtime.

Palendromeda features heavy and constant threats of powerful noises that will leave you in no doubt that HARK are a band very much of our time. Sludge, Stoner Metal and Prog Rock combine for a sound we have not heard this powerfully put together since the early days of Mastodon. You can tell HARK’s sound is very different to TAINT. While TAINT was more direct and a bit more chaotic, HARK is more progressive in scope and structure. The music comes at you from every direction, which leaves you in a constant state of fear and surprise, as you don't know where the riffs will take you next.

HARK add elements of Space Rock to their music as things can get very trippy indeed. You need to listen to Crystalline in one go as it has a vast array of ideas you will miss out on your first listen. Tracks such as Hounded by Callous Decree, Black Hole South West and Mythopoeia – are packed with explosive riffs that expertly combines Sludge, Stoner, Hardcore and Progressive Rock into one wild ride you will not be able to get enough of.

Though it is the longer tracks that makes Crystalline such a highly original and thrilling experience. Sins On Sleeves, All Wretch No Vomit and Clear Light Of... – take their time building up a sonic based atmosphere for HARK to build their music on before unleashing heavy pulsating riffs that will question your very existence and the world around you.

I have to talk about the sound of Crystalline. As it is one of the best sounding albums we are likely to hear this year. It has been mixed by Kurt Ballou of Converge fame and what a difference he makes. Kurt Ballou has made HARK sound like an unstoppable war machine intent on destroying everything in their wake. This power-trio exists as one living entity being kept alive through the power of sound. 

HARK do show a more subdued approach on the 90 second track – Xtal 0.6 – which plays like an ambient/noise/shoe-gaze post-rock track before the final main event is thrown upon us. And what a main event HARK have in store for us. The epic 10:32 minute pounding riffs – Clear Light Of… that includes a certain Neil Fallon of Clutch on guest vocal duties.

This is where everything that has came before combine for one final assault on the senses. Heavy melodic fast-paced Stoner Metal riffs matched against the excellent vocals of Jimbob and Neil. Neil adds his expert world famous bluesy hard rock vocals against Jimbob’s dangerous grizzled vocals and its one hell of a battle that will leave you on the edge of you seat. But don’t forget the riffs. It feels that HARK are having a battle with an unseen enemy. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Crystalline is the Sludge/Stoner Metal album of the year for me. It will be considered one of the landmark metal albums of 2014. Don’t be surprised if Crystalline ends up on a few Album of the Year Lists. It’s a brilliant introduction to a band that demands your attention now.

Just buy this album as it is a phenomenal record. End Of.

Thanks to Season of Mist for sending a promo our way. Crystalline will be available to buy from CD/DD/Vinyl from Season Of Mist from the dates below.

March 14th in Germany and the Benelux
March 17th in the UK, France, and the rest of Europe
March 18th in North America.

Check The Band From Links Below

Written by Steve Howe