You need to question your certainties if you think Drawn and Quartered are the most extreme metal band from Seattle. Say hello to blackened-death metal noise pollutants, Hissing, who are every bit as hostile as their name suggests. It’s three years since they last released their thirty-minute EP, Burning Door, and Hypervirulence Architecture marks their second album since 2018’s well-received, Permanent Destitution. As a band that try to suck you into the abyss, it should come as no surprise that a Hissing album is just as challenging as a Portal record. But do their originalities translate into an enjoyable listening experience, or is this an experiment that knows no boundaries and offers no repeat value?
The good news is that Hissing’s latest LP does not degenerate into an unlistenable lethargy like the recent Artificial Brain album. Opener, ‘Cells of Nonbeing’, is what Voivod would sound like if you asked them to cover an old school death metal (OSDM) band. The grimy guitar tone and nauseous vocal roars drip with liquid pus. This is the death metal of the sweltering hot furnace where the workers need full PPE gear to tend to its needs. Claustrophobia is the dominant mood. Imagine that you’re trapped in the crawl space of a mine shaft with dynamite strapped to your back. ‘Hostile Absurdity’ will put you in a fidgety state but will also contaminate your breathing. Cast your mind back to the 2005 British horror classic, The Descent, and picture the blind savage creatures that feast on human flesh. Their attempts at music would sound like this if you gave them instruments in a dark rehearsal room.
Hissing want you to have a torrid time as they subject you to thirty-eight minutes of intense performance art. Their aim is to drag you into their nightmare world of half-formed monsters and deformed human slaves. Ten minutes of non-stop meth-induced paranoia with side effects of vertigo are hard to stomach on ‘Operant Extinction’. Do this band understand or even care about song structures? It’s like Blut Aus Nord with no purpose. The dissonant guitars and belching basslines wallow in their own filth. Death metal should be nasty, but this is more akin to Imperial Triumphant delivering an abstract interpretation of OSDM. A gradual exposure to asbestos over a period of two decades is less harmful than the harsh noise served up here.
There’s no doubt this is sophisticated art. You don’t write complex songs like this on a whim or without a micro analysis of each part. Listen to the loose hang of the bass strings and jazz fusion drums at the beginning of ‘Intrusion’. This provides a great contrast to the frontal assault of crunchy death metal that follows. Vocalist, Zach Wise, tries to reach you from an alternative world where his enemies banished him long ago as punishment for his evil transgressions. He wants to enter your reality with the aid of demon forces that will one day turn on him and devour him. No human or animal is safe from harm on ‘Identical to Hunger’. There’s no shame if you lose your appetite after sitting through these five minutes of audio carnage. Hissing pivot their aesthetic to that of sub-human cannibals waiting for you to enter their territory. But you won’t be anyone’s dinner. Your instinct is to resist the foul avalanche of discordant music by the time you reach closing track, ‘Meltdown’.
Hissing are on to something unique, but their sound needs to evolve to that point where you can absorb the chaos and enjoy the deliberate hostility of their music. They’re not there yet, but their imagination should see them reach their full potential on the next record.
Release Date: 15/07/2022
Record Label: Profound Lore Records
Standout tracks: Cells of Nonbeing, Hostile Absurdity, Intrusion
Suggested Further Listening: Imperial Triumphant – Alphaville (2020), Portal – Avow (2021), Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses (2022)