Shatter and Fall

rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Slowly Light Collides
02. Mind is a Shadow
03. How Many Dreams
04. Spirit and Matter
05. From Our Darkest Moments
06. Reverse the Code
07. Lost to Flame
08. The Answer
09. Triptych Visions
10. A Tide Unturning
11. Taken

Released in the midst of a global pandemic, HINAYANA's "Death Of The Cosmic" EP was full of morbid promise, but was also undeniably scuppered by circumstance. Observant folk that love to wallow in epic misery will have noticed that the Texas quintet had already moved beyond the solid but unremarkable melodic death/doom of their "Order Divine" debut (2018),  and on to something more distinctive and substantial. HINAYANA plainly draw from all the usual, crestfallen suspects, but whereas many bands operating in this realm focus on gothic atmosphere and the mesmerizing potential of lengthy, oppressive pieces, the Texans are deftly economical with their songwriting, and prefer a succinct, hook-laden approach that owes plenty to PARADISE LOST without ever slipping directly into their musical shoes.

With "Shatter and Fall", HINAYANA have forged a definitive statement, and while it would be generous to say that this is a particularly original effort, it is hard to recall a more effective blend of big tunes and bad vibes, at least in recent times.

Founder and frontman Casey Hurd has found the perfect vehicle for his barbarous but crystal-clear proclamations. HINAYANA are monstrously heavy and instinctively dramatic, and from the swirling thunderstorm of the opening "Slowly Light Collides" onwards, "Shatter and Fall" hits every desirable mark with ease. Despite sharing a gift for oppressive woe with the likes of SWALLOW THE SUN, Hurd's crew seldom dwell on riffs for longer than absolutely necessary, and at times demonstrate a ruthless refusal to hide behind dour repetition. At their sharpest on the sub-four-minute "How Many Dreams" and the AMORPHIS-like battery of "The Answer", they deftly blend other elements into their ponderous brew — a dash of blackened blasting here, a surge of symphonic density there — while keeping indulgence to a minimum. The result is a batch of songs that arrive, drag the tears from your face, and then leave. Everything sounds enormous. Everything hurts.

"Shatter and Fall" concludes with its three finest songs. "Triptych Visions" is the most overtly deathly moment on the album, but with stirring, anthemic qualities that belie the snarling extremity of Hurd's vocal delivery. Darker and nastier, "A Tide Unturning" slows things to a ghostly funeral march, but still conjures some razor-sharp melodic tricks to counterbalance the rolling waves of doomed-out opulence. Best of all, closer "Taken" is a willful circling of the abyss, with Hurd in gravel-gargling demon mode and a glacial but gutsy wall of guitars that shimmers with psychedelic intent. HINAYANA have found their niche. All that remains is to see where it takes them next.

Author: Dom Lawson
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