Summon in Thunder
6/12/2008 - Review by: Etiam
This past winter, Himsa toured the States in support of Amon Amarth, the Viking clan from Sweden. The pairing wasn't an especially comfortable fit, but it allowed the band access to an audience that might have previously dismissed it out of hand without giving their rollicking modern thrash a fair shake. In any event, Himsa were undoubtedly more of a success than the other support act, Sonic Syndicate, and put on a brash, entertaining set full of crowd (and security guard) interaction that accurately reflects their music--irreverent and up-tempo with plenty of adrenaline and, most of all, a pervasive sense of enjoyment that one doesn't hear too often nowadays. 'Summon in Thunder' is the band's most recent effort and first on Century Media. It also welcomes back guitarist Sammi Curr, absent from the writing and recording of 2006's 'Hail Horror', and his presence gives 'Summon In Thunder' an alacrity that is well-timed for their major label debut. On this album, Himsa continue their trend towards a more legitimately metal approach, after their first three releases had a more pronounced metalcore edge. Frankly, the differences between 'Summon In Thunder' and some previous work is relatively minor, but it has been enough for the mainstream underground to accept them a little more willingly.
More importantly, it's allowed their songwriting and performance to flourish. The harmonized refrains (well displayed on the single 'Big Timber') and speeding double kick (not strictly blastbeats) heard throughout the album are not techniques well-suited to metalcore, and Himsa exercise them with an ease and affluence that validates their change in style. Pettibone's vocals have remained rather consistent in tone throughout the transition--primarily a shout-growl with a moderate dose of supporting howls that show off his impressive if underutilized pipes--but he has effectively avoided falling into the heavy cadences of metalcore that can so quickly become staid. On the production front, the ever-popular Tue Madsen had a hand in mixing the album while Devin Townsend managed Pettibone's vocals, giving them some but not too much of the distinctive Townsend edge. Expectedly, the product is forceful and crisp all around, and if nothing else, 'Summon In Thunder' at least lives up to its name in sonic output.
With plenty of attitude-driven grooves and saucy leads, Himsa's American neo-thrash dances on the edges of 'thrashcore', if such a genre can be said to exist, and this is both a blessing and a curse. It prescribes an engaging, high-voltage style that will appeal to a wide fanbase, but artistically sells itself a little short in the end. Not that thrash was ever the most emotionally dynamic of metal's subgenres, but Himsa haven't yet shed their glitzy edge, and while it lingers they are precluded from true thrashing dominance. Still, 'Summon in Thunder' is still fair entertainment that packs a hefty wallop, so long as one doesn't expect its impression to last long.
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