Review – Hail! Hornet: Disperse the Curse

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Review – Hail! Hornet: Disperse the Curse
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Hail! Hornet: Disperse the Curse
Sludge Metal
Relapse Records
July 19th, 2011
Release length: 42:21
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Hail! Hornet is not the newest Sludge Metal band on the block, but many more then likely have yet to hear about that. The group comes from Moyock, North Carolina and formed back in 2006. Roughly a year later, the band’s self-titled debut album was released in 2007 through Dwell Records. Four years later, the band entered into a deal with Relapse Records to present their follow-up release, Disperse the Curse, to a wider audience through a bigger label. For a lot of Metal fans, this is the band’s introduction, and in no time at all Hail! Hornet will assault the listener and leave a huge impression on the listener.

The production quality to Disperse the Curse is actually cleaner then you would expect from a Sludge Metal recording. Keeping in the vein of releases from today’s more prominant Sludge acts like High On Fire. The distortion on the guitar is strong and pretty loud, though not necessarily deep, even with the presence of the bass that does it’s job well. These two actually feel more like would belong on a more digital, stylish album that also manages to capture the heaviness and intensity of the band well like DevilDriver. The drums keep the pace well with the often furious music the band plays amping up the aggression in the same manner the bludgeoning scremaing vocals do, which are further in the background, but not to the point where the music completely wipes out the vocal performances through the release. Of course there are times where the album manages to capture that typical Southern atmosphere to, but it’s more through things like audio samples such as with the start of “Shoot the Pigs” that sounds like a voodoo ritual.

But that’s not all with that track. “Shoot the Pigs” hammers out of the gate when crushing, headbang worthy material that would clearly get the pit ready to go crazy before the main verse kicks in. The only real problem with the track, and why the reference to DevilDriver was made, is that the song comes off quite similar to their track “End of the Line” at times, except the chorus is replaced with a breakdown that moves at a slower pace, but ultimately comes off far more destructive in the long run. But despite that, the song is a highly energetic track that just drips aggression, and it carries on like that from here. “Gifted Horse” carries on the aggressive flow, though it’s not quite as angry and having a little more melody to it through the guitars that seem to harmonize with their somewhat crushing sound and groovier bridges. The track does seem to have a bit of an old-school Thrash vibe to it as well, leaving a bit of a Slayer impression that listeners can pick up on, but clearly not ripping it off or coming as close as “Shoot the Pigs” did with another band.

While the faster tracks definitely have a far more aggressive side to them, the album isn’t limited solely to the energetic performances. There are some slower cuts on here as well, like the title track “Disperse the Curse”, which captures the atmosphere of that voodoo ritual sounding introduction to “Shoot the Pigs”. The song picks up into a random tribal-sounding faster pace a few times with a strong focus on the drum kit for what comes off as a solo that builds up but just never hits. While these tracks aren’t bad, they definitely don’t come off to be the most impressive tracks off the album. Instead, it’s the more aggressive tracks like “Shoot the Pigs” and the furious groove-laced “Beast of Bourbon” that the band slams right in your face that make up some of the more important songs. There’s also “Kill the Liars” which, again, is a more aggressive track, but it also blends in some of the slower portions of the band’s song writing skills with intense Sludge Metal and drumming that pounds in and really builds up the energy level of the song, but again it just feels like the band is not capitalizing on that strong drum beat. There’s also the slower paced “Dullard’s Creed” which feels like a mixture of a droning approach coupled with the Sludge Metal since it starts and ends without the music ever really changing. It’s a decent hypnotizing track, but again, nothing too spectacular.

Disperse the Curse isn’t exactly the greatest Sludge Metal recording ever put to disc, but it’s got it’s moments. Sure the slower tracks are not much to really go crazy over, and sometimes the drums show plenty of talent and build up the music greatly that the band just fails to recognize, but overall it’s not a bad effort. Much of the music sounds poisonous and just angry. There’s that slight Sepultura-like Groove quality to some of the tracks, but not enough to completely remove the Sludge approach, even when the music does seem to take on a tribal aspect through the guitars or drums that can either work for or against the more voodoo ritualistic sound that sometimes slips through the music like it does the audio sample at the start of the album. If you like Sludge, chances are you’ll like the album. Hail! Hornet show a lot of potential on Disperse the Curse, and it has a good number of tracks you’ll probably come back to again after a few full spins. The band is one to keep an eye on, but it’s clear they do still have some room to grow to create a truly addicting and punishing album.


01. Shoot the Pigs – 4:42
02. Gifted Horse – 2:30
03. Disperse the Curse – 4:30
04. Glass Roses – 1:31
05. Beast of Bourdon – 3:16
06. Kill the Liars – 5:28
07. Unholy Foe – 3:15
08. Suicide Belt – 2:06
09. Dullards Creed – 3:13
10. Scars – 3:13
11. Blacked Out in Broad Daylight – 8:38
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Hail! Hornet

Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records.