Album review: Hacktivist – Hyperdialect
‘Every day is brand-new / Tight bars, screws loose,’ blasts Lifeform, the third track on the second full-length release from Milton Keynes collective Hacktivist. ‘Got a few views on YouTube / But still room to improve.’ It’s a striking moment of street-level autobiography in an album full of all the council estate grit and humble braggadocio of the British grime scene, and it sums up Hacktivist’s ability to feel like both occasionally-awkward oddity and breath of fresh air as a “heavy” band in 2021.
Where rap-rock has traditionally relied on either larger-than-life caricature (Body Count, Limp Bizkit) or real-world Big Ideas (Rage Against The Machine, FEVER 333), these lads strip it back to the everyday struggle of staying alive to tell their story in modern Britain.
Inhabiting the country’s meanest streets and the borderland between two already marginalised musical genres, that struggle is real, and there’s an irresistible authenticity to the trauma ingrained between the rave-synths and semi-automatic riffage of Turning Tables, or the sheer battle-hardened aggro of like Dogs Of War. As other compositions veer into apocalyptic industrial (Currency could’ve come from Mick Gordon’s 2016 Doom soundtrack) or proggy djent (Planet Zero pounds like a pneumatic drill), however, there’s a stylistic disconnect where Hyperdialect seems unsure whether it wants to keep is feet on the ground or blast off into outer space.
Taken on their own uncompromising terms, though, this is Hacktivist’s most tightly wound and venomously intoxicating work to date. There’s a cameo from London’s Kid Bookie on Armoured Core, while (now-ex) Betraying The Martyrs frontman Aaron Matts lends his heft to the schizoid rapid-fire of the title-track, but so distinct (and potent) is that central formula that the overwhelming flavour remains unchanged. Whether it’s for you will be particularly dependent on personal palate, but there’s no doubting that these remain some of the most original and uncompromising sounds emanating from the UK today.
For fans of: PENGSHUi, Astroid Boys, Rage Against The Machine
Hyperdialect is released on June 18 via UNFD.
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