‘JOY’, the sophomore release from Stockholm natives, Bitch Hawk, is truly captivating. Infectious, almost. With a vocal approach at times comparable to Get The Shot and instrumentation drawing inspiration from the likes of Every Time I Die, it commands your attention from the moment you press play. With each track appearing, punching you in the mouth, and swaggering off again before you can truly comprehend what’s happened, this record is not one to be ignored. Serving as the band’s second release in less than a year, it is a clear indication that they are full of ideas and have within them a work ethic not to be disputed.
Black Metal can be found seeping its way into the soundscape of the record, such as on the seventh track ‘Kall Värld’, which begins with a powerful tremolo picked guitar riff sounding almost comparable to UK duo Anaal Nathrakh, albeit slightly more sonically welcoming. Anaal can also be found on penultimate track ‘Rikspsyk’, which begins with a fuzzed up low-end heavy enough to make your arsehole open up; and assaults you mercilessly with one of the most abrasive vocal deliveries of the project and a vibe that feels positively Grindcore. Closing track ‘Joy’ and third track ‘Baby Love’ contain the closest thing the record could consider to be clean vocals, by briefly trading harsh yelps for strained shouts.
Lead guitar plays a huge role in the dynamics of this record, with brilliant hooks being thrown in on a whim by guitarist Andreas Hourdakis before disappearing back into the chaos. Take for example the six-second solo on ‘No Time For You Tonight’, which sticks its cock in the door just to show you what it has and then slips off before you have a chance to fully register it. Or perhaps the solo at the album’s conclusion, which noodles its way through the grooves laid before it and sees you off with a quick dose of Mustaine.
All this aside, I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure that I get what they’re trying to do here. I know I like it, quite a lot in fact, but I’m not sure I get it. Andy Williams style riffing twinned with Bannon–esque screeching is an invitation I would find hard to ignore, but so much is happening in such a short period of time that my head occasionally struggles to comprehend it, even after multiple listens. Make no mistakes: this is a good record, but the leaps this band take from Hardcore to Thrash Metal, to Extreme Metal, and back again, take my fragile-man-brain and drop kick it, all the while they’re standing around circle head-banging and stomping gleefully.
If you give it your time, there is so much to love about this record. The overall musicianship is astounding throughout, and the way that it jumps from one idea to the next and back again, combined with so much enthusiasm for what they’re doing, it is clear to me that Bitch Hawk are having a ridiculous amount of fun. And I love them all the more for it.
Joy was released November 2nd, 2018, on Adrian Recordings. Find them on Facebook, Bandcamp, the Adrian Recordings website and all streaming services.
Press photo by Anders Jundermark.
Album artwork by Kalle Mattson.