Stumbling Through The Walls

Written by: LF on 08/05/2021 11:33:46

The Aarhus-based Danish noise trio HIRAKI has been on my radar for a few years by now. They have always been a force to be reckoned with in a live setting and with "Stumbling Through The Walls", their second full-length, they really hit their stride on record as well. They are not the easiest band to pinpoint genre-wise, rather opting for a chameleon-like approach somewhere in the crossings of synth-punk, aggressive hardcore, and forward-thinking noise rock. "Stumbling Through The Walls" is a very industrial-sounding album as well, brimming with abrasive walls of sound and harsh guitars next to loud, echoing, and busy drums. With phrases like "TILT THE STRUCTURE" featured in the artwork and lyrics of the release, and the very fitting album title itself, there should be no doubt as to the music's intentions of shattering systems and breaking through walls. This works as a sonic assault as well as a lyrical one.

Despite all the upheaval, HIRAKI are excellent at mixing up their harsh expressions with rhythms and structure that give the music (and the listener) room to breathe nevertheless. While the record has a very unified sound and somewhat narrow mix that gives the chaos a claustrophobic and neurotic expression, there's still some diversity to find across the songs. The dynamic rhythms especially serve to shape the skeletons of the songs in a way that at the same time gives them each distinct identity, while all feeling aggressively brittle, doomed, erratic, and stumbling along, as it were. I like all parts of the thing, but my favorites have cemented themselves more and more clearly the more I've listened.

The first few highlights appear early, as the flow of the first three songs keeps building further up. Right off the bat, "Common Fear" is an excellent introductory track, smashing its way straight into our ears with deceptive ease. It also features Cara Drolshagen of The Armed on frantic, high-pitched extra vocals, contrasting neatly with HIRAKI's own vocalist. It is a no-holds-barred, hard-hitting entry point that sets everything up perfectly for the amazing, rumbling single "Wonderhunt" that is coupled with a beautifully eerie music video, featuring The Stumbler, that you should check out right below this review. Come third track, "Proto Skin", the first climax appears as the sound gets more layered and melodic while maintaining every bit of the ferocious and blunt freight-train energy built up so far.

My other favorite bunch is gathered towards the end with the combo of "Mirror Stalker" and "Peach Lung". The latter again builds on the former for maximum impact, as Anders Jørgen Mogensen (from KloAK and Gullo Gullo) features with some sharp new vocals. He gives a welcome new sensibility to the music with his fluttering style reminiscent of The Mars Volta and the fast, techno-like beat and wild guitars make for a beautiful culmination of the album for me. "Mirror Stalker" is eminent in itself as well with its slow beat and naked structure, giving the effect of every dissonant and cut-off sound clinging on loosely to dear life.

While the energy stays high through all these songs, it is contrasted heavily in the middle with "New Standards", featuring one Rikke Fink on flat, hypnotizing vocals that attempt to set a sort of ritualistic vibe. Although "Eternal shitstains of a spotless mind", delivered with sharp disdain, is a recognizable lyric that sticks itself squarely in my mind, there's a flatness to the song that just rubs me the wrong way, even as it develops into a layered beast on its own with far-away wailing sounds. It certainly delivers its separate mood and sound to this album and I can appreciate the effect of the song in the flow of the album, taking things to a very different place sonically.

Clocking in at little over half an hour over eight songs, this album is a focused sonic assault on the listener. At first, I couldn't quite get a grip on the record beyond the chaotic sound but the whole structure of it really opened up for me after a little while, so much so that it has become one of my favorite releases so far this year. As mentioned in the beginning, I have been on board with HIRAKI as a live band for some time now but with "Stumbling Through The Walls" they cement themselves on album as well, arriving a lot closer to truly translating their live sound and ferocity to recording. If you're into music that's abrasive, erratic, and noisy, yet emotional and intelligent, it would be downright criminal to overlook this release.

Download: Proto Skin, Peach Lung, Wonderhunt, Mirror Stalker
For The Fans Of: The Body, Daughters, The Armed, Frontierer, Portrayal of guilt
Listen: facebook.com/HIRAKIband

Release date 09.04.2021
Nefarious Industries

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