No Hawaii

Snake My Charms

Written by: AP on 30/09/2010 19:26:10

Judging from the number of new bands taking on the style, experimental metal is all the rage right now. No Hawaii used to an aggressive hardcore band, but it seems their skill and ambition outgrew the confines of the genre, thus facilitating their evolution into a full-fledged NeurIsis contraption. "Snake My Charms" is the second offspring stemming from this rebirth, and just like its predecessor - the amusingly titled "Bruce Lee in My Brain" EP - it contains an allusion to a legendary action hero (see the song "Chuck Noir") and features a selection of highly unconventional songs. As such, this album is the definitive acquired taste.

On this album No Hawaii is knee deep in sludgy progressive marsh, instantly bringing to mind the likes of Mastodon and The Ocean. But wait, something about this simple enough duality does not quite explain the jazz infusions and vocal idiosyncrasies that wind their way into songs like "A Lovely Breed", "Chuck Noir" and "Unleash the Kuru" - it sounds too far-fetched and eccentric to have drawn influence from the heavy end of the spectrum only. Could it be that No Hawaii are onto something here? As it turns out they are; a seldom seen conjunction that gradually boggles your synapses until all that's left is a chaotic struggle to comprehend and categorise it. As the opening track, "A Lovely Breed", winds itself through epic Neurotic math rock, Mike Patton introversion, prodding alterna-metal madness in the vein of System of a Down, and back again, No Hawaii induce in the listener a sense of disbelief and awe - a sensation which grows even more firm when the following, eponymously titled "Chuck Noir" toggles the Mars Volta influences and eventually descends into a wicked Dillinger Escape Plan style psychosis.

It's not until the crescendo in that song flows neatly into the devastating, Opeth-meets-Intronaut mammoth "Tunnel" that No Hawaii finally expose their cohesion with a more traditional progressive canon - a modesty maintained over the next few tracks "Isaul" and "Radio Magallanes", which merely feature breathtaking musicianship and humbling instrumental arrangements, courtesy of the drummer in particular. It is here that the Neurosis and Isis influences are at their most prime, and not against the band's advantage it should be said. But such nuances are quickly swept aside by the baffling interlude "Technical Difficulties" and its rapid follow-up "Unleash the Kuru", which by-and-large sounds exactly like an improvisation-fueled Mars Volta song. Nice. And to wrap things off in style, No Hawaii have decided to not be shy in their megalomania, ambitiously titling the conclusive track no less humble than "E=mc2". Unfortunately, and it should be estimable from the title, the song falls short of the magnificence of its eight predecessors in being but an ambient, electronically enhanced, instrumental space metal piece with little in common with the remaining songs.

Still, what No Hawaii have created here is exceptional. Some have called their eclecticism too great for their own good; their abundant transitions too sudden or malplaced; and their influences too apparent; but in listening to this astounding piece of music such deficiencies - if indeed they even exist - have gone unnoticed to my usually sharp ear for lacks. In fact, the only real issues with "Snake My Charms" are the redundant interlude "(blank)" and the aforementioned outro "E=mc2", which have the unfortunate side effect of distracting an otherwise well written flow. I trust fans of any of the plethora of bands mentioned in this review will be up on their toes by now though, wanting a share of the cake, so let my words not keep you any longer. Go fetch.


Download: A Lovely Breed, Chuck Noir, Tunnel, Isaul
For the fans of: Intronaut, Isis, The Mars Volta, Mastodon, Neurosis
Listen: Myspace

Release date 09.06.2010
Parallel Music

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