Reach Beyond The Sun
19 February 2013
by Tom Doyle
There is much to be said for judging art independently of reputation, the blind tasting that lets you make your decisions based on what is there, not what your expectation teaches you to pre-empt. It is both a curse and a blessing for a long-lived band with a powerful legacy that people will rarely asses their latest offering on it’s own merit, it will invariably be seen as part of and subsumed into an epoch, compared as ‘not as good as xxx’ or ‘better than the last album xxx’. More or less every review you will read of Shai Hulud’s new albumwill make mention of their truly brilliant back catalogue, their position as one of the defining melodic metallic hardcore bands of the last fifteen years, and even the fact that one of New Found Glory is backing doing vocals for them.
So let’s not do any of that – let’s listen to Shai Hulud like they are fresh faced kids out promoting their first record; it’ll be more fun that way.
The first thing to note is that Reach Beyond the Sun is an album full of verve, sway and confident bombast. The metal meets hardcore formula is honed to perfection with remarkably progressive guitar lines and powering rhythm section matched to heart-stirring vocals which are coarse grained enough to get the blood pumping but embossed with a mellifluous tinge that will no doubt unite mosh pits in song throughout the summer.
It is concise too; nothing here feels as though it outstays its welcome and the album flows generously from one track to the next leaving very little time for thoughts of the skip button. Everything feels neatly placed and when the big breakdown moments come they are satisfying in the extreme. ‘Think the Adder Benign’ in particular with its “I WILL, WALK WITH YOU MY FRIEND” gang chants fulfil everything you could want from a record like this in just under four minutes.
There is too a complexity to the song writing on offer here which belies the typical linear approach that so much hardcore suffers (or benefits, depending on your view) from. The sharp riffs of Matt Fox twist and merge with real aplomb to produce a record that is not only powerful on first listen but also interesting on the tenth. Those prepared to live with Reach Beyond the Sun enough to sink their teeth fully into its lyrical content will also enjoy some remarkably rich song writing drawing together strong musical threads under powerful thematic umbrellas.
Watch an interview with Matt Fox and Chad Gilbert from Shai Hulud:
If you are a fan of hardcore or metal with a brain then there will almost certainly be something for you to take away from this LP. Forget for a second that Shai Hulud are one of the most important bands in the history of hardcore and absolutely vital in the amalgamation of the genre with metal influences – none of that matters to your enjoyment of Reach Beyond the Sun. You shouldn’t be buying this record because of its creator’s rep, or because of their name, but just on the basis on its brilliant, brilliant content.
Sounds Like: Misery Signals, Killing The Dream, Hopesfall
Standout Tracks: Wish the Adder Benign, Reach Beyond the Sun, The Mean Spirits, Breathing.