Review Summary: Imagine a twisted mashup of Meshuggah, Rage Against the Machine and Professor Green, and Rap-Djent is born. Rejoice!
First, a bit of backstory: After leaving rising UK metal group Heart of a Coward, Timfy James started making jams with grime rapper J Hurley. After realising they were onto something, they recruited a full lineup including Sacred Mother Tongue's Josh Gurner on bass, and Hacktivist emerged. Their fusion of different styles (predominantly grime and the "is-it-isn't-it" genre djent) quickly made waves in the underground scene and caught the attention of publications such as Metal Hammer and MetalSucks, with each publication either highly praising or strongly damning this new approach. Now we have a full release by which we can judge them: the self-titled EP, HACKTIVIST.
The EP is full to the brim of chugging "djent" riffs accompanied by J Hurley and Ben Marvin rapidly spitting lyrics, and while many wouldn't trust this to work (myself being a doubter), it combines extremely well. The opening track, "New Age" is short and sweet and sets us up nicely for the rest of the EP. Plenty of atmosphere and djenty goodness in just over a minute. The two frontmen don't have as much to do in this track but still contribute a memorable chant throughout. "Unlike Us", the EP's lead single (and the group's breakthrough track) is a slower track with more basic rapping from Hurley and Marvin and, for unknown reasons, is unjustly drawing scrutiny and comparisons to the nu metal/rap metal scene of the early 00s which, frankly, baffles me, as it feels like people are trying to pidgeonhole this band in with the likes of Limp Bizkit despite little similarity in terms of musical style, rapping, and many other things which lead me to believe that the comparisons are sheer ignorance.
"Blades", another track which has earned daytime airplay on BBC Radio One (fitting in nicely with Adele and co.), probably has the most grime influence music-wise, with a more droning beat and increased electronics. The singing isn't the best in the world but it fits in nicely with the song and doesn't really have any detrimental effect on the song as a whole. The rapping is still top notch and if more of this fills the airwaves then I'm not complaining, whereas the title track, re-recorded from an early demo, is much improved and introduces screaming to the established Hacktivist style and "Cold Shoulders" is, in my personal opinion, the standout track on this EP and closes it well. It's memorable, has a chorus which is easy to shout along to at shows and is essentially the best of everything else that has been shown on this EP. Hacktivist are on to something big here and hopefully they release an album soon before the copycats emerge to completely dilute this interesting take on djent.