HIVE – Spiritual Poverty (2022)REVIEW

Ten percent of the United States population have accrued seventy percent of its total wealth, the folks who were richest back in 2007-2009 when the Great Recession hit are the only ones to have amassed any considerable wealth since and they continue to get richer faster than ever, a full sixty-plus increase across the board has been amassed among the billionaires in the United States in the last two years alone. — At some point folks even the most barn animal thinking humans recognize they’ve always been intentionally blindered fodder for the rich, or, they become their unwitting lackeys, partying up for the sake of joining the “winning” team in the increasingly numbed-over sport of political extremism. When the rich are this rich, this completely stinking hundred lifetimes over rich, it only serves to breed an infighting and greed-stricken society rife with opportunistic sociopaths and terrifying legions of somehow dirt-poor yet virulently sycophantic slaves sick enough with their fear of change that they’ve ended up wishing they were the slavers. The amnesia of denial is at its thickest amongst Americans today, struggling together while picking at and barking mad about the minutiae of meaningless shit when their absolutely shocking poverty should’ve unified ’em long, long ago. Though the rant is my own, this manages to be one of many inspired points made within the incensed and sonically uproarious brutal crust/metallic hardcore of Minneapolis, Minnesota-based quartet Hive whom arrive locked and loaded with their best showing yet on this third full-length album. ‘Spiritual Poverty‘ blazes hard, takes a deep breath to drink in the scorched earth beyond, and continues coughing up every last frustrated entrail made noxious by our nowadays catastrophic age of peak inequality, coldest corporate manipulation and widespread political ignorance.

Hive formed in 2014 between folks who most all share some roots in 90’s hardcore groups Midwest or otherwise, the kind of bands you’re either too young to know or too old to remember at this point. Their first mini-LP (‘Hive‘, 2015) set the tone for what’d come next with a ditch-heavy sound, fried and frustrated sociopolitical/personal lyrics yet it’d really just give the listener a flash of their skeleton nowadays considering their debut LP (‘Parasitic Twin‘, 2017) was the big ‘breakthrough in terms of what Hive‘s sound continues to be all about. It would also be their most experiential album in terms of longer pieces, a sort of arc’d caustic atmospheric thread and various bursts of energy that’d lead to uneven pacing and a properly taxing affect. That all comes in hindsight, though, as it was their second full-length (‘Most Vicious Animal‘, 2019) that’d been my first contact with the band wherein I’d likened their sound to a combination of Scandinavian hardcore / d-beat’s more modern metallic digs ah via Martyrdöd, a hit of Tragedy‘s guitar work by proxy and the dissonant and the metallic side of the early 90’s — be it the best of From Ashes Rise or “dark” hardcore a la Gehenna‘s first couple of records and certain Integrity releases. A loose set of somewhat old references on my part which translated to a puked and pissed crust influenced sound, fed up and coughing stuff with simple yet inspired rhythms. I think my final comment back in 2019 was “Desolate and completely damning stuff.” and sure, I dunno if that’s how I’d word it now but it still hits the right sorta way.

With their second LP Hive hadn’t lost the noisome reach or the stylistic tics of its predecessors but their approach found ’em cutting back the song lengths considerably and falling more directly on the hellscaped crust side of the metallic hardcore punk fence as they began focusing on a more compressed, violent attack which balanced more frequent use of melodic leads. This core idea worked, hit hard and still holds up on album number three, this time around they’ve simply poked at the details quite a bit more and written songs that are more intricate, choked-out, catchier and even more distraught by my measure. This is likely due to the addition of guitarist Dan Jensen (Wolvhammer, Noose Rot) who’d likewise mixed/engineered the previous record and contributes heavily to the guitar-forward bully of this third LP.

Spiritual Poverty‘ kicks off at its most reactive, scorching through most of Side A with a clenched fist and a veined-up neck, barking out four somewhat similar ~three and a half minute pieces which showcase what they do best, weaving a ton of heavy repeatable work into deceptively simple rhythms and floating memorable leads throughout. If the momentum of it all works for you that kick-off ’til the comedown of “Metamorphosis” should be a thrill, it remains my favorite part of the full listen after countless wheels through. When Hive do finally hit the brakes and roar about it isn’t necessarily a kick back to ‘Parasitic Twin‘ but a meaner, angrier band generating a sludged post-apocalyptic landscape. It sparks a turn in mood, more deliberate and contemptuous movements which soon serve the major highlights of the full listen. I wouldn’t want to downplay the major showing that the first half provides but, consider it the obvious meat on the plate here and something to appreciate as the nuke that it is.

Side B particularly highlights the sweet spot Hive have found between their flood of ~2-3 minute compacted burning-hot killers on ‘Most Vicious Animal‘ and their ~5-7 minute soul-detangling slow churning peaks on ‘Parasitic Twin‘ by generally sticking to a roll of no-nonsense 3-5 minute cuts which seem edited down to their most effective rhythmic statement. This of course applies to the whole album, allowing for a listening experience which appears in steadier, most consistent flow but still maintains variation enough that folks’ll still need their high blood pressure medication around this real-ass hardcore record. There were looser, easier ideas kicking about on previous albums here and there whereas this whole deal is buttoned-up to an impressive, immediate degree; The sort of Tragedy-esque edge to the leads sparks up a few more times on the second half of the album, although “Protection” might’ve been a harder hit earlier on the album it does end up being the piece to convince on my part, the song that I’d gone back to a few times for its own sake which kinda defines the nowadays Hive vibe beyond the neck-socking jabs that fire up the album. The elbow-whipping swing of “Hunger Strike” is equal highlight on my part, perking up the damned energy of the later half with its quiet refrain into loud final chorus to end the song tapping into the best of the archetypal late 90’s metallic hardcore dynamic, eh, without sounding like Raised Fist or whatever. Anyhow, you’ve gotten the idea by now if at all.

Hive have managed to tune their best assets, brightest ideas and deepest frustrations into a truly representative third longplayer with ‘Spiritual Poverty‘, a harrowing and high-stakes clobber fest which wants nothing more than a better world away from the shameful opportunism, ignorance and hateful extremism of today. I’d found the full listen inspiring, satisfyingly physical in its heaviness yet taxingly blunt in its hard-screamed register throughout all of which balanced out well on its ~34 minute rub. At this point I’d suggest it is their best yet but, moreso another great album in a line of inspired throat-punchers. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Spiritual Poverty
LABEL(S):Translation Loss Records
RELEASE DATE:August 19th, 2022

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