HDK, System Overload (2009, Season of Mist)

The skull:
Does the HDK graphic arts team not know how x-rays work? The whole point is to look through the soft tissue (like brains) to see the hard (like skulls). Perhaps we’re seeing a new, experimental kind of imaging technology at work here. Y-rays, or something like that. Or, maybe these are just really dense brains. Like, maybe the system that’s overloaded is the Moh’s Hardness Scale. These brains rate an 11. Also, the soft palate, I guess. Shit. Now my BDS Justification System is starting to smoke. Red alert!

The music:
HDK play modern melodic death metal (think: Soilwork, Scar Symmetry, etc) with a kind of Fear Factory-like precision. They’re not especially original, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t pretty good at what they do. The band is a studio project led by After Forever’s Sander Gomens, and he ropes in a bunch of buddies to help out, particularly in the vocal department. There are at least seven credited vocalists (including: rap vocalis, harsh vocals, clean vocals, and female vocals) and one of the bigger names to turn up is Andre Matos, most famously of Angra. The female singer is Amanda Somerville, who also fronts Trillium and who sounds a lot like all those other Dutch female metal singers. But for the most part, the vocals are a kind of semi-melodic yarl. Not quite thrashy, but definitely not clean either. These alternate with standard issue deep and raspy growls. The glossy, triggered, high-gain production renders the affair a bit more generic sounding than it was already scheduled to be, but if you’re into the bands that HDK wants to sound like, the homogeneity of the sounds will probably comfort. Most of the songs are uptempo and catchy enough, with only a few out-and-out clunkers (notably the lame groove cut “Terrorist”) even if nothing really stands out as especially well-crafted. For modern middle-of-the-road extreme metal, HDK are solid, and if that sounds like a weak endorsement, I should say I’m not too into the bands whose shoulders they’re standing on, but I can certainly appreciate the workmanlike craft they put into their music.
— Friar Johnsen

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