Review Summary: Constantly oscillating between rampant and infectious, Hydra is a resounding triumph for Swedish heavy rock.
Swedish heavy rock bands have always been inclined to deliver amazing 1970s-inspired music. On their third album, Malmö-based Deville are at the top of their game following the footsteps of such acclaimed outfits as Dozer, Lowrider and Truckfighters. Even though their prime influences are rather apparent, Deville opt for modern production that accentuates their fuzzy guitar tone placing their style in a distinctly contemporary context. The foursome ventures into heavy metal, alternative rock and even pop making all these arbitrary influences integral ingredients of their style. That's why, Hydra
sounds more like an extension to the booming stoner rock scene than a relic of the past, embracing various directions that the quartet's peers usually steer clear of.
The slick production is also there to expand on the outfit's consistent songcraft. Deville have taken their sweet time to figure out which tracks work best during their numerous concerts and thus the process of putting the album together lasted two long years. This approach has resulted in a diverse repertoire that ranges from sturdy, hook-laden rockers to more progressive, sludgy bruisers. “Lava” sets the tone for the entire disc blending driving riffs with an unpretentious hook, while “In Vain” drifts into an alternative territory with its reassuring chorus and smooth transitions. Elsewhere, “The Knife” is notable for its bouncy, heavy-on-fuzz passages culminating in a deranged drum solo. Helmet-like, walloping riffs propel the verses of “Let It Go” which bewilders with its pop-inflicted chorus. On top of that is a mesmerizing, double-punch climax consisting of atmospheric “Imperial” and tranquilizing “Stay A Little Longer,” both of which leave a profound impression.
Aside from the supreme interplay between fuzzed-out guitar riffs and oozing bass lines, the exceptionally dynamic drumming of Markus Nilsson plays an essential part in keeping the songs compact enough not to allow even a moment of boredom to slip in. The LP's great appeal is even broadened with dissonant solos scattered, often unsuspectingly, throughout numerous tracks. The bombastic instrumentation is supplemented with powerful vocals of Andreas Bengtsson whose timbre is tailor made for this kind of music, and the harmonies he comes up with are nothing short of infectious. His sole misstep in an otherwise flawless performance seems to be a repetitive chorus of “Iron Fed.”
Similarly to Torche's latest effort, Hydra
feels like the template for stoner rock releases that are going to follow. It superbly encapsulates the current tendencies in heavy rock music with its knack for persistent groove, bludgeoning riffs and powerful melodies, enhanced by the decidedly modern production. It's a near-perfect amalgamation of all these elements that makes for the record's remarkable staying power.