Review Summary: A sonic tiger punch to the balls
Heavy metal and all of its sub-genres have always been known for intensity, power, and shear musical insanity. We have Swedish death metal, Norwegian black metal, and all sorts of pagan, folk and symphonic delights. Power and speed metal genres, while thematically lighter and more melodious, cannot be counted out easily when bands like Hibria take to the stage. Such a combination can be a truly deadly thing and from the first moments of the album it is evident that Hibria are a band of a considerably higher caliber than the hordes of typical classic speed metal acts that old-school metal heads would be so accustomed to. Sometimes amid all the insanity, the melt-your-face-off no-holds-bared approach can become trite, especially within the confines of one's own home or with headphones and an mp3 player, but despite the inherent obstacles of their genre, Hibria have managed to record an enticing and enthralling album with The Skull Collectors, any way you slice it.
The opening song is aptly titled as it is essentially a sonic shot to the balls, with authority. Hibria hold nothing back and the song is a dazzling array of highly technical riffing, drumming, and banshee vocals. The singer sounds as if he could melt steel and his vocal performance is an impressive combination of range and raw grit. He sounds like what I would expect of the lovechild of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and Rob Halford of Judas Priest. That's a good thing (at least for me). Fans of technical and complicated songs will not be disappointed; the structures are dynamic but rarely meander, and are loaded with flashy and chaotic licks and solos that make for a titilllating musical journey or an agonizing couple of hours getting their asses kicked in the mosh pit. These songs are played in such a way that covering them would take countless hours of practice and a vocalist who didn't mind blowing out his vocal chords halfway through a show. Amid all of the fury there still remains a conspicuous degree of thematic coherency and original songwriting which is normally a mighty feat but Hibria have arisen to the occasion with this album.
Despite the impressive display of musicianship, a certain degree of musical wankery and all-too-familiar speed metal riffing is unavoidable and by the end of the album the constant onslaught becomes a bit tedious. This music has been written for small, highly intense metal shows and would have much more appeal if I was wasted and situated in the center of a mosh-pit. The problem is that while I sit in my room at my desk writing an interview I am usually craving something more nuanced. Wave after wave of slick and ostenatious licks have slowly worn away at my tolerance and by the end of the album it is difficult to pay attention, it all seems like one long blur of shred insanity. The vocalist never seems to alter his style or inflection, which can be interpreted as either an artistic hinderance or an impressive feat of stamina. Despite the lack of artsy subtley, I can still enjoy this album in my present state, albeit not immensely.
They are a Brazillian power metal band, and so I don't have to comment on the lyrics.
No matter my conflicting opinions about the static themes on the album, I can't help but recommend The Skull Collectors to those in need of a good face-melting, intense work-out music, or tunes for a night of rough coked up fornication. Hibria are clearly a band on a mission to make our hearts sing and our ears bleed and I am appreciative of that. I cannot predict what the future holds for the young and vital speed-metal act but considering their raw talent and passion I can only guess that it holds more fame and notoriety provided that they evolve and expand their style without compromising their musical roots. A demanding proposition but I suspect they can rise to the occasion.