HUSSAR – All-Consuming Hunger (2022)REVIEW

Named for Slavic/Central European light cavalry and seemingly themed after war-torn and power hungered mindset Toronto, Canada based death metal trio Hussar make an odd, or at least indeterminate first impression with their craft, a form of moderately bent death metal syncopation well-sorted out in its introspective yet mildly performative groove focused gesturing. ‘All-Consuming Hunger‘ is more progressive than it is doomed where sub-genre nuance is concerned though the opposite is true of the generally moody, frustrated yet mobilized act that it evolves into. Though we are in danger of confusing late nineties alt-metal tropes and tones for impure death metal’s abstractions of counter cultural rhythmic values in this type of revision, the effect is nonetheless entertaining from any angle of observation and the band’s work lands finely detailed, already accomplished at their most public outset.

Rather than pen an entirely new set of unheard-of pieces for ‘All-Consuming HungerHussar have opted to refine a set of four of their best songs from their demo and rehearsal/live sessions released over the last four years and finish it off with what appear to be two of their most recent compositions, giving us a surprisingly logical temporal progression through their development and thought process from 2018 ’til now. This means that folks who’d already partaken in their first demo (‘Shattered Morale‘, 2018) their live-recorded tape, ‘Live at Lula‘, from that same year and the more recent ‘All-Consuming Hunger‘ (2020) live tape more-or-less have a clear idea of what the trio are all about, though the final render here is comparatively polished and professional, lending more precision to the bass guitar in the mix and allowing for a few more guitar layers in general. The two songs found on ‘No Victor‘ (2019) don’t appear to have made it onto the running order and don’t seem to have been reworked/repurposed into the final two songs on the album, which are in a similar style nonetheless. That isn’t to say that there are no pleasant surprises here on this fine debut LP but that it generally serves a very best version of the impressive initial developmental phase of the band.

Within the infectious grooves. — A strong rhythm section and a knack for piecing together sidewinding death metal grooves ends up being the biggest draw here, the sensation of Voivod-esque progressive metal without pretense and with a bit of late 90’s/early 2000’s Gorguts (see: ‘From Wisdom to Hate‘) in the distant periphery makes for a moderately memorable, momentum-based listen which will initially read squarely in the progressive death metal region, reports of death/doom metal are unfounded from my perspective as the vibe and the riffs do not match past-or-present doom metal trope, staging or representative influence. ‘All-Consuming Hunger‘ makes good use of groove metal theatrics otherwise, leaning into ringing dissonant intervals for its most notable phrasing alongside a few quick stabs at classic progressive death metal’s basal motion (“Dissonant Weeping of a Thousand Widows”) for the sake of adding some memorable texture and barreling push to their run-on riffcraft. Most riffs invariably lead somewhere when following the thread… though the overall effect reads as rooted in the alt/groove spectrum of modern metal when reduced to the destination rather than the journey, so to speak.

Hussar‘ve generated entertainment value enough within the rhythm guitar work alone that the only lacking value across the board, lead guitar interest, won’t likely occur to the average death metal fan tunneling along with ’em until repeated listens have had time to sink in beyond the ride of it all. I’d found the final third of the album (“A Dissonant Weeping of a Thousand Widows”, “A Vile and Hollow Shell”) developed the interplay of the trio’s rhythms quite a bit more in comparison to the first two thirds, lending a sensation of a tightly knotted prog-death jam primarily interested in showcasing rhythm guitar work. There is a certain level of trade-off between pieces which are more accomplished in their rhythmic finesse yet somewhat less memorable and the more obvious, groovier standouts (see: “All-Consuming Hunger”, “Ritualistic Castration of the Feeble-Minded Cowards”) and this creates a certain level of balance on the full listen without generating any too-clear divisions in style or mood.

Hussar avoid the ‘one trick pony’ b/w ‘one track mind’ syndrome of so many too-eager death metal groups who rush out a debut LP without any unifying personae, point of view, or core idea by way of sheer aptitude and experience, and I’d generally chalked this up to guitarist/vocalist Vadim Balanyuk expanding upon his gains founded fronting progressive black metal group Traitor, though the well in sync performances of the trio as a whole keep this machine moving in interesting ways. Effective album art and inviting sound design made for an easy point of ingress on my part, the most memorable aspect of the album (its rhythms) would produce diminishing returns in my case after around eight to ten listens; This is nonetheless an admirable above-average run from a band who present no overtly borrowed or typified result within this well-crafted debut. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:All-Consuming Hunger
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

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