Hardcore Anal Hydrogen - Hypercut

14 songs
42:48 minutes
***** ****


At two square kilometres, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (only the Vatican manages to be even tinier), and with housing prices probably shooting through the roof, you wouldn’t expect many rock bands coming from that semi-enclave surrounded by Southern France and the Mediterranean Sea. Back in the Eighties, Monaco’s Princess Stéphanie tried her vocal cords at sultry French pop music, and the Metal Archives are actually listing six bands (most of them on hold or split up), but in the end, I have to admit that Hardcore Anal Hydrogen are the only Monegasque band I have ever truly listened to.

Founded as a duo in 2009, the self-released their first two albums in 2009 and 2011. Soon they were signed to the French quality label Apathia Records on which they released their third album The Talas Of Satan in 2014. This was a record of short nervous songs that somehow, despite being entertaining and all, didn’t manage to really stick with me. It was also then that two new musicians were hired, mostly for live activities. And now the band is finally back with their most recent album Hypercut, and oh boy!, how they have matured, evolved, improved! So yes, there are a few songs more on the new album, and still it is double the length of its predecessor. Quantity is of course less important than quality, but in the case of HAH, it must be said that playing longer songs allows them to add even more ideas, and coming from these guys, you can expect a truly insane rollercoaster ride through a most varied field of genres.

The opener Jean-Pierre is unusually long at five and a half minutes, and contains more ideas than most bands come up with in a lifetime. The song starts like a furious electro grindcore song, with impossibly fast rhythms, a thrashy guitar and screeching vocals. One and a half minute into the fun you get one of the most bizarre guitar solos full of strange effects, and then at the three-minute mark, the band all of a sudden combines complex djent rhythms with an electronic undercurrent à la Jean-Michel Jarre and some added techno blips and beeps. The following Coin Coin is a quasi-instrumental with vocal duties taken over by some ducks (!), and a saxophone part à la John Zorn’s Naked City. In the middle there are some proggy ELP-styled synthesizers, and the last half minute of the track is a trippy chorus with a really catchy duck vocal melody. At the latest here it should be obvious that HAH are a bunch of maniacs. In many ways their modus operandi reminds me of Mike Patton (less Faith No More than Mr Bungle and Fantômas), although the Monacans seem even more unravelled. La roche et le rouleau combines grindcore with surf rock, whereas the following Paul comes with a vocal line totally destroyed by an autotune effect from out of this world, accompanying some kind of Sixties bebop music.

So the first few tracks are really extraordinary, but then things become even more experimental. Blue Cuts is a short jazz trio tune with some strange cut and paste computer effects. The middle of the album is taken up by the nearly nine-minute-long Phillip, which is an instrumental tribute to movie soundtracks. The first half sounds like an Eighties horror movie, while the latter half has more of a spooky Sixties flair. What follows lacks a bit the focus of the first half of the album. Sproutch is for instance a half second electro grind hurricane. Automne 1992 is a strange mixture of effects at just under two minutes, followed by the one-minute acoustic instrumental Bontenmieu which sounds like the soundtrack of a French or Italian movie of the Sixties, preferably starring some actor like Jean-Paul Belmondo. The album ends with the nearly five-minute-long Alain, l’homme télévitré, which shows HAH once again from their more focused side.

Despite Hardcore Anal Hydrogen not staying focused throughout the album, Hypercut is still a rather unique experience. Metal, grindcore, electro, techno, progressive rock, ambient, jazz, fusion, blues, soundtracks,... all kinds of different styles are clashing together, sometimes many of them within a few seconds. It takes some determination to take it all in, but if you like the crazy mind of a Mike Patton, then these even more derailed guys will enthral you too. Get ready for one of the maddest albums I have come across in a very long time.

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