Album Review: Hissing – Hypervirulence Architecture

Album Review: Hissing - Hypervirulence Architecture
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Hissing are a band I’m firmly aware of. Formed in 2014 out of Washington, United States, the band had a steady few years where they’ve released various Demos, as well as a Split and an EP. However, it would be 2018 where we would finally witness the potential full power that Hissing have had bubbling away for all this time. I remember listening to Permanent Destitution when it first released, I was completely enamoured with what I heard. It really helped me to push the boundaries with what I felt was possible within extreme metal, so when I saw Hissing were gearing up to release a second studio album I couldn’t possibly say No to this. So, without further ado, this is Hypervirulence Architecture.

When it comes to pacing, the band jump back and forth periodically between their more rapid and visceral riffs, and the chunkier variation that sees the real weight of the band’s sound bear down on us. Fans familiar to Hissing’s style won’t be surprised as it’s what made them synonymous with extreme metal with their first album a few years back. It’s a good variety to recognise as you understand you’re not going to be subjected to just one kind of riff approach for a full track, even during a shorter 4/5 minute opus as well. But what I truly appreciate about the band is their willingness to be weird; Hissing are prepared to throw some strange forms of extremity our way in the form of more dissonant and violent displays of guitar work. The band have become renowned for an uncompromising sound that isn’t looking for approval and thankfully the same can be said yet again; if anything the band have taken it a little further once again.

Even when the drums aren’t undergoing blast beats, which are often intermittent and rarely last for too long before being changed up, they’re always bringing a fast tempo that not only matches the rate at which the riffs are moving at, but the impact of their performance is easily felt and permeates throughout the record. For such a maniacal album, it’s impressive to note how easily the drums manage to be heard; cymbal strikes are picked up without difficulty and there’s no effort needed to listen closely to what individual Tom-toms are offering in spite of the band’s chaotic nature. There certainly feels to be a more coordinated effort on the band’s part this time round to root themselves a little more to the ground. It’s not merely a little easier to follow, but the band have signposted where they’re going somewhat more.

Album Review: Hissing – Hypervirulence Architecture

Structurally I would say this album definitely shows the learning process. Midway through we get a ten minute track, nearly a quarter of the album’s entire runtime, immediately followed by the record’s shortest piece. What we’ve got is the band giving us their most intricate and developed track before giving us a necessary breather prior to cracking on with the rest of their material herein. Following on from that we get a pretty standard slew of five minute tracks that close out the back portion of the record. In a way, Hypervirulence Architecture has a much greater emphasis on structure as we can view it as split into three defined sections. It isn’t just one track after another, rather it’s specifically built in this manner perhaps to emulate a journey or whatnot. On the whole however, it means the audience won’t just be trudging through track after track and therefore lessens the chances of being perceived as some extreme metal slog. It’s complete chaos, but with order in mind.

If there’s anything to be said regarding this album, Hissing have definitely adopted a much more focused approach to songwriting and ensuring their sound may be better followed by their audience. The band’s general style remains but it feels more refined, it comes off with greater clarity. It feels like the band have a greater understanding of what their sound is and how they can implement it on record. It doesn’t feel so completely in our faces anymore; there are occasions where their songwriting is increasingly loose, without restraint, but on the whole the band have a firmer hold on what their sound is delivering. The lion is still roaming free but there’s at least one chain upon the floor this time. As a result, I believe fans will take to this album quicker than they would have done so with Hissing’s first record, in that it is somewhat more down to earth and the band seem to have a better idea of what their dissonant and visceral style is actually composed of. It’s not simply a case of throwing things at a wall and hoping something sticks, it’s a dedicated and planned approach to their songwriting.

In conclusion, Hypervirulence Architecture is an album that displays all the ferocity established fans of the band would want to find within, yet there’s a focused effort on really honing the songwriting and making sure this album is a more mature effort. It certainly feels like that more mature effort; the aggression and tenacity the band are known is present in droves but it’s not as spontaneous anymore; we can see the annihilation coming and even so that doesn’t make it any less thrilling, regardless whether you can see it coming on the horizon or not it’s still exhilarating just knowing that it’s coming; it keeps you on the edge of your seat because you’re always wondering where the band will go next owing to their rapid pace and unpredictability. It’s interesting that on just their second full length release, Hissing are already looking to refine and whittle down what may be unnecessary to their style of songwriting. I’m very curious to see what a third album may unveil for us.

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