Album Review: Hitten – Triumph & Tragedy

Album Review: Hitten - Triumph & Tragedy
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Time for some more classic sounding heavy metal. This record was one that I wasn’t familiar with whatsoever but I wanted to hear a new record of some straight up heavy metal and in this case Hitten provided that outlet. Formed in 2011 out of the Spanish region of Murcia, Hitten started out with their first Demo in the same year before following it up with their first EP Shake The World in 2012. Their first full length record, First Strike With The Devil, released in 2014 and really began to show the band’s more laidback approach to metal. This isn’t a band that’s looking to throw their audience to deplorable and destitute depths throughout their time listening to Hitten, instead the band have a keen attention on what can make their sound fun and inviting bringing to mind the zeitgeist much of metal possessed at the turn of the 1980s where many mainstream metal bands were focused on that commercial, widespread audience. The last few years have seen Hitten release one album after another on a pretty consistent release schedule if you will, now in 2021 the band have here for us their fourth studio length album and their first in three years since 2018’s Twist Of Fate. I was looking forward to something a little lighter and I’m pleased to share with you my thoughts on Triumph And Tragedy.

I like how the band’s general tone as they play is one of fun, lighthearted zest. Their performance here possesses a great deal of energy that much is certain, yet the style of riffs and life they continuously inject into their songwriting creates this optimistic and happy aesthetic that makes it difficult to turn away from. You want to keep listening not merely because the music is high-octane and the band are clearly putting some serious effort into their playing, but because of the youthful and pure power they have here. Most classic sounding metal bands these days would include riffs that might take a turn downwards to create a darker and more fervently insipid atmosphere, but Hitten incorporate riffs that tend to reach upwards quite regularly which in turn crafts that more upbeat and happier sounding music.

What I appreciate regarding Hitten is how they’re able to play music that definitely carries a retro tone without it feeling like they’re feeling the need to shove it in our faces. The overall vibe one gets out of Triumph And Tragedy is reminiscent of the 80s glam or more extravagant bands like Wasp, Twisted Sister etc whereby the music harnesses a strength to its performances but still oozes a style and aesthetic that speaks volumes about the band’s identity. Honestly, it’s a nice listen that’s separate from many of harder and darker renditions of modern metal where bands may feel the necessity to bring the power at the expense of positive energy. Sometimes you need an album like this one to give you the good attitude you may be after, records such as these may sometimes be looked down upon and snubbed by communities who only want their metal to be ripping and ecstatic however you need the balance sometimes and Hitten provide that in pleasantly surprising droves.

Vocally I feel like the band get the performance just right. It could have been very easy for Hitten’s vocals to constantly reach for the high notes all the time as is a popular pitfall for many classic sounding metal bands, so it comes as a nice realisation to understand how Hitten manage to restrain their vocals enough to keep them under control. Their frontman clearly has a decent set of pipes on him as he’s able to accentuate his syllables with great discipline and serene flow, there isn’t anything ascertaining to a jarring or segmented vocal performance happening here, it’s a buttery smooth vocal flow that rolls off his tongue with no effort. But that’s not to say his vocals possess zero strength as not only are they at the forefront of the album’s mix but they pack just enough of a punch to be felt without coming off as brutalist and punching. Hitten have crafted an album that’s rounded out and has few jagged edges running along its exterior.

An album such as this though can run the risk as coming off as particularly one-note with tracks that feel thematically and aesthetically identical to the other. I can happily say that while the overall tone and vibe of Hitten’s work here is one of a pretty established sound and identity, the actual makeup of tracks and songwriting provides enough variety into the record for the band to carry themselves through to the end. Every two tracks or so we’re treated to a slightly edgier and harder striking track that while still retains Hitten’s signature upbeat tone, they’re still able to convey something every now and again that’s a little removed from what the band establish early on as their signature vibe. This small injection of variety feels critical as for an album that’s nearly 50 minutes long, I feel like it was really needed and thankfully Hitten provided.

In conclusion, as the band’s 11 minute closer begins to wrap up (odd how 11 minute closer tracks have become a theme this year) and their prowess for songwriting is demonstrated by this vastly elongated track, it becomes clear that while Hitten may provide a sound and aesthetic that seems rather laidback and fun it by no means indicates their ability to write and play is diminished or lacklustre. Sometimes bands with this kind of vibe may entertain me but they won’t keep me listening, Hitten on the other hand actually did. You can’t be extreme or brutal all the time so sometimes you need a band or album such as Triumph And Tragedy to mellow you out all the while providing the engagement and entertainment you should rightfully expect them to give you. Admittedly while this isn’t an album I would immediately think to listen to off the top of my head, I’m still really thankful I heard it as it’ll give me yet another option for something to experience and enjoy when I’m searching for something on the lighter and more jovial side of things.

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