REVIEW: Hive – Exuviae [2022]

Artist: Hive
Album: Exuviae

Bands undergo a figurative metamorphosis with each release cycle—a period of dormancy and growth which might not be outwardly apparent, before a moment of quiescence leading to a relative blossoming and re-emergence. With each cycle, they grow—or well, they should—and leave behind the sloughed off cast of their previous works, carrying with them only those elements deemed crucial to their sound and dynamic. While that cast off husk is called an exuviae, it just so happens that Hive’s debut full length of the same name is anything but a discarded exoskeleton. Exuviae reflects the entire process, and is the culmination of Hive’s growth and maturation from their previous (but extremely adept) offerings. On their debut full length offering, Hive are immense, gloomy, groovy and gut-wrenching all at once. A demonstration of masterful aggression without omitting artful atmosphere, Exuviae is a rampaging release that runs amok, trampling the listener beneath tons of dissonant, jarring, unfiltered groove.
When one looks back at Hive’s previous releases, their ability to craft raunchy, heavy grooves has never been in question. Where Exuviae truly excels is its ability to highlight Hive working as cohesively as they ever have, with their finest songwriting and best production to date. The band’s percussion continues to rip the listener to shreds with a quick, precise kick drum and spine-snapping snare. “Herd,” as well as “The False Hydra” see this monstrous kick drum working with a dense, beefy bass to bombard the listener with a lurid and lively low-end. Other songs, like the eerie intro “Deimos” see more moderate percussion working in excellent dynamism with choppy, ten-ton guitars that slaughter the listener as though each chug was a maelstrom of sledge-hammer blows. Throughout Exuviae, Hive manage to make every track monstrously heavy while still keeping things quick and supremely energetic. This is as true of “Deimos” as it is “Subjugated Identity” and even the colossal “Contempt.” To top it off, Exuviae is home to Hive’s finest production yet, and it really isn’t even close. Everything sounds sharp and full with just enough of a rough, gritty finish such that as songs like “Herd” stomp on the listener, they do so with an abundance of crunch. Exuviae is an instrumental juggernaut that has been polished just shy of perfection—which in and of itself, makes it even that much more impactful.
Exuviae’s vocal approach is a marvelous mirror to its instrumental dynamism. Where Hive have always included a hefty dose of hip-hop in their vocal cadence and patterning, Exuviae sees that refined and made to more tastefully match the hyper dissonant groove metal-gone-deathcore stylings that Hive have put forth. “Deimos,” as well as “The False Hydra” see Hive balance gruff low bellows with an unmatchable sense of patterning. Meanwhile, “Herd” is a tank, with incredible vocal range that covers piercing screams and bitter, blistering growls. Hive’s vocal approach has the most range the band has put forth thus far, with even more energy and intensity than what long-time fans of the band might even come to expect.
Exuviae is an immense release, bar none. While it still feels brief for a full length record, it packs everything the fan of modern heavy music could want out of a release, and then some. Incorporating elements of the long-lost genre groove metal into a backbone of jarring deathcore and topping it off with a unique midwestern flavor, Exuviae is aggressive and catchy; sinister and surreal, daunting and devilishly devastating throughout its run time, seeing Hive earn the lofty reputation they rightfully boast—and then some.

For Fans Of: The Last Ten Seconds of Life, A Life Once Lost, Bodysnatcher, Brand of Sacrifice
By: Connor Welsh