REVIEW: Hounds – 1129 [EP/2015]


Artist: Hounds 

Album: 1129 – EP


Few creatures have personified struggle, strife and savagery as well as canines have. Dogs have served as an emblem of aggression and carnivorous, ravaging energy since ancient Greco-Roman myths and catholic scripture—servants of Hades, guards of Hell’s gates, the list goes on. Recently, pop culture has given man’s best friend a sparkly new façade; whether it be Paris Hilton’s Pomeranian or your favorite “#DogsOfInsta” Instagram account. Enter the Georgian juggernauts, Hounds—a band hellbent on bringing back a bone-snapping intensity that would make Cerebrus blush. 1129 is heavy-handed, hard-hitting metallic hardcore that will swing at the listener until their jaw is limp, dislocated and dangling at the base of their neck. Catchy, raunchy metalcore with a kick of Southern heat and heartfelt passion, plug in, turn up, and let slip the Hounds of war.

It’s easy to write off “metalcore” as the overpopularized, glitzy, post-hardcore infused monstrosity heavy music’s mainstream has molded it into. But underneath the superficial clean-chorus coat of substancelessness, there is a thriving underbelly of punchy, passionate metalcore that is going stronger than ever. Aligning themselves with the likes of Beacons, 2×4 and Kublai Khan, Hounds find themselves in the latter, and in notable fashion. 1129 is home to skin-peeling riffs, bone-splitting chugs and punctual, dizzying percussion that makes it leaps beyond par for metalcore’s humdrum course. Drummer Nick Chance devastates every track—whether it’s his bombastic lead-in to “Distance” or his subtle ghost notes in the introduction to the EP’s title tracks, Chance is a crushing, all-consuming force to be reckoned with. Chance’s galloping, furious candor is a perfect target for a liberal application of lurid, sludgy grime in the form of Josh Palmer’s low-down and dirty bass work. Often adding subtle coats of slime and filth to the band’s grinding riffs and gutsy drumming, Palmer goes largely unnoticed—save moments of “The Devil’s Game” and “Reflections” where his grooves cut through Chance’s splashy cymbals to slither freely into the listener’s head. While Chance and Palmer lay down a majority of Hounds’ hectic, heavy low-end, guitarists Zachary Sweeney and Zack Harvey range from ruthless riffs to corpse-melting chugs throughout 1129 that give the EP it’s sharp, shining edge. “Reflections” is a glorious example, beginning with a grisly, grinding nu-metallic riff that quickly weaves from aggressive to ambient—shortly before kicking out the chair and snapping the listener’s neck with no-holds-barred anger. Sweeney and Harvey are as synchronized as their similar first names might imply, as the duo work together throughout the duration of the release to keep the listener hooked.

With a marvelously diverse metalcore canvas, Hounds’ instrumentation leaves many of their peers choking on dust. However, never faltering to live up to their name, Hounds’ frontman barks with a ferocious energy that would silence all the hounds Hades has to offer. Cody Roberson is, in a word, relentless. Even during the closing portions of “Reflections” and “1129” where Roberson’s aggression gives way to emotion and passion, his voice is still strong and sturdy. With a range that favors a meaty mid-range yell, but is more than capable of diving into a burly bellow or—on rare occasions—a softly crooned cleanly sung sentence or two, Roberson brings even more diversity to the table, if (somehow) the listener got bored of the musicianship. Roberson’s vocals are the very image of stamina and energy; a textbook definition or relentless. “Distance” and “The Devil’s Game” highlight this even before the consideration of the two guest appearances—Taylor Bryant (of Beacons) and Matt Honeycutt (of Kublai Khan)—letting Roberson work side by side with two of his influences and  juggernauts of metalcore’s heavier end. All of these elements come together to make 1129 as vocally frantic as it is instrumentally intense, begging the question: what more could you want?

Hounds work together like…well, a pack of Hounds, savagely ripping at the listener’s head as if they haven’t been fed in weeks. Whether it’s shameless aggression or sheer beauty, every aspect of 1129’s all-inclusive metalcore package will leave the listener breathless. Like heavy, hellish breakdowns? You will love “The Devil’s Game”—especially when Palmer’s bass rumbles below Honeycutt’s harsh growl seconds before impending doom. Perhaps you prefer more emotion and passion with your punishment? Look no further than the chorus of “Distance,” or the colorful closing portion to “Reflections,” where Roberson tactically employs soaring singing along harmonious instrumentation to hit the listener right in the feels. Hounds’ prodigally prominent debut release is a comprehensive display of mosh-friendly metalcore that will quickly skyrocket the band to notoriety within the dog-eat-dog heavy music underworld.



For Fans Of: Beacons, 2×4, Kublai Khan, Gideon, Adaliah

By: Connor Welsh