Firstly an apology, this review should of been out weeks ago… but hell we’ve had to wait 33 years for a new album, so a couple of weeks late for the review isn’t a big deal right !!
So for those not in the know, Hydra Vein had two albums released at the back end of the first thrash wave of UK thrash, with their Rather Death Than False Of Faith debut in 1988 and After The Dream the following year in 1989 before going their separate ways, based in and around Brighton the band had close ties with DeathWish as Bass Player Damon also played with his brother Nathan and Stuart Ranger (also Bass) is brother of original and current HV guitarist Dan Ranger.. anyway enough family fortunes!
A couple of members are no longer with us as Guitarist Jon Balfour passed away in 1992 and Vocalist Mike Keen departed in 2002 (he also tried out for a spot in Sabbat after Martin left), but needless to say the band made enough of an impression on the late 80’s thrash scene to be included in Ian Rankin’s fabulous UK thrash Bible ‘Contract In Blood’
Anyway… I’m still rambling, the band reformed in 2019 with James Manley-Bird on vocals to play Newcastle Bro-Fest, and liked it so much that they have released this, their third album… Unlamented
Now, a comeback/reunion/reboot album, after a gap of over 30 years, with most importantly a new vocalist is always a big ask, especially in a market where there a literally bands younger than Dan’s guitar strings chomping at the bit to be heard, and have the youthful anger and exuberance to smash your teeth in with their tracks… that being said many of the old dogs still have a bite
And that’s exactly what HV give us a bite, a snarl and a sneer, the album is full of social commentary, is leaning towards its 80’s heritage without tripping over the memories and is raw in its recording and production… not raw as in bad it just sometime feels like the production needed to give a little more, but thats just a minor gripe, and something we only pick up on because they are such a ‘veteran’ band and I kind of expected something a little richer in texture, especially around Jame’s vocal sound.
But don’t get me wrong, with three guitarists blasting in the riffs, and Damons bass of plenty there’s some bangers on here that work really well – ‘Blood Eagle Dawn’ is a standout track for me and truly captures this incarnation of the band at its best. Single ‘Age Of Plague’ screams of anger, ‘Does The End Justify the Means’ is a chunky aggressive rager and ‘Twilight’ glistens with the smell of Hi-Tech Slammers and Bullet Belts straight out of the 80’s in the closing thrasher! All in all this is a good solid return from the band.
Whilst not pushing all the buttons on every track there’s enough here to prove that the wait was worthwhile, and hell, maybe not leave it so long next time boys!!
Released by Back On Black on the 14th October, grab the CD online from PlasticHead or listen via one of those new fangled streaming sites