Album Review: Hyperdontia – Harvest of Malevolence

Album Review: Hyperdontia – Harvest of Malevolence
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Coming in at the perfect time before I headed off to London to see Hyperdontia headline London’s Necropolis festival, we have Denmark’s very own stalwarts and their newest full length release: Harvest Of Malevolence. Formed in 2015 out of Copenhagen, the band shares members from Denmark (Mathias Friborg on guitar and vocals since 2019), Turkey (Bassist Malik Çamlica/Guitarist Mustafa Gürcalioğlu) and Poland (Drummer Paweł Tunkiewicz). Hyperdontia are one of Denmark’s shared continuum of bands where many members can be found in a whole multitude of other bands, however it’s Hyperdontia who have really been excelling as of late. The band released their first EP, Abhorrence Veil, in 2017, which was soon succeeded a year later with their first full length: Nexus Of Teeth. That album made huge ripples in extreme metal back in 2018; I remember it well, and it served as a launch pad seeing as they released multiple Singles and Compilations, an EP, and a Split with Mortiferum, before finally releasing 2021’s sophomore album: Hideous Entity. I simply adored Hideous Entity and only deepened my adoration for these guys. Their last studio work was an EP, Deranged, which dropped last year, but now poised for a June 21st release date and their first album alongside Dark Descent Records, Harvest Of Malevolence seems ready to take fans by storm. This was a dynamite opportunity to hear Hyperdontia’s newest release before I hear them hopefully play some of it at Necropolis. Let’s delve right now.

In an era where many are adopting dirtier, grittier kinds of album production, Hyperdontia forgo this approach completely and embrace thoroughly a much cleaner, streamlined production that enables every element of their performance to strike at the heart of the matter. Cleaner death metal records are possible providing the band in question can still deliver on the power within their songwriting, yet few in recent memory have attained the balanced strike that Hyperdontia possess. The riffs, vocals, basslines come through effortlessly; there’s not a hint of an obstacle impeding their trajectory to us at any point and yet the band’s power feels barely tampered with. If anything, it’s even cleaner than Hideous Entity was but Hyperdontia have continued to not sacrifice power just so their performance can be conveyed across all the easier. As a result, there’s nothing preventing you from really investing deeply your attention into the smallest minutiae Harvest Of Malevolence may offer; it becomes an album you don’t need to just experience at the surface level but can seriously dive into and explore every hidden gem within the record that even a somewhat more muddied production would have blocked off from us.

The bass work herein is utterly sublime. I particularly enjoyed how the basslines have been incorporated into the mix too, as they haven’t merely been swept to the wide for the riffs and vocals to command your attention solely; the mix balances the bass with the primary riffs directly side by side to each other so there’s little separation of the two as the record plays on. I appreciate how much of a presence the bass possesses too; it’s not loud where it tries to beg for your attention because it’s evidently occupying a space reserved for the bass guitar, yet even as the band break out in warped and twisting solos that stretch the capabilities of your neck, you can still simultaneously bask in and enjoy every baritone groove the basslines weave in and out of this record. It returns us to the band’s cleaner aesthetic, as the total absence of abrasions throughout the record enables all the instrumentation to play exactly how they wish without the afterthought of a muddied production hampering their songwriting.

Album Review: Hyperdontia – Harvest of Malevolence

How a band manages to feel so crunching and mighty whilst harnessing such a squeaky clean and polished production is beyond me but it works wonders for their ability to convey riffs. It’s as if the polished soundscape allows riffs to hit you with precisely the force they had in mind when writing this record. The band play with a tempo that’s expected of them, and with blast beats just as much too, but since there aren’t any unnecessary inferences of gritty production hindering their performance, it’s as if their riffs slide across with ease as they go from one track to the next. It feels like the band are playing across an ice rink, but there’s no instance of wobbling nor of poor balance all the while Hyperdontia are pulling off these extravagant performances that would give many other bands of their ilk pause for thought. The control and discipline on Hyperdontia’s end is incredible as they could have gone absolutely ballistic with Harvest Of Malevolence knowing what kind of soundscape they had in mind, yet they stuck to their guns and kept their songwriting not only under firm control but with keen direction too. Whenever you hear the band play a new track, one you know you’ve not heard before, you’re instantly eased into this comfortable space knowing you’re in good hands. Everything about the band’s songwriting and performance screams maturity and a professionalism not often seen in extreme metal.

It needs acknowledging that Harvest Of Malevolence is a wondrously well paced record. I think the removal of anything that could obstruct the audience from the songwriting plays a part here as, other than the band’s own specific performances, there’s nothing else to engage the listener. So, when the band want to speed things up it’s made very apparent that we’re being taken for a ride with adrenaline to boot, but when the band want to simmer things down their songwriting literally tells us things are going to become steadier and we’re moving into territory that’s more methodical and isn’t outright gunning for total speed. It needs stating this is a fast album and provides all the tempo you’d want to discover on a Hyperdontia record but the band aren’t renowned for songwriting that just moves at Mach One alone, their pacing can slow down, speed up, weave in and out etc. The complete flattening of the line this record performs on, with not a bump in sight, means the band have absolute dictation over where their tempo takes us and therefore we become even more under their direct spell. But while the band do play fast, each track has something that we can really take away once the record on the whole is done; there are many sequences here that I feel wouldn’t be included on other bands’ albums since they aren’t the absolute fastest or most evil sounding pieces. However, such instances help flesh out Hyperdontia’s identity as they’re clearly looking to give their music a greater presence than simply roaring in our faces and then being done with it. They started doing this with Hideous Entity, but it’s here where they’re looking to expand their horizons.

In conclusion, Harvest Of Malevolence is Hyperdontia’s most mature work of extreme metal to date. The rate at which this band have been evolving and shaking up their own identity is incredible. You can’t compare this with Nexus Of Teeth, even when that record came out only six years ago; in terms of maturity and songwriting competence it might as well be decades. In fact it’s difficult to compare this with most extreme metal releases right now; the maturity the band have put into this record through pacing and songwriting is second to none. With the more fleshed out songwriting and riff trajectories the band are looking to try out here, I felt Harvest Of Malevolence was perfectly paced. Yes, the band are looking to invest time into more methodical, intricate pieces of songwriting, but never at any moment did it come across like Hyperdontia were missing their mark. Because of their efforts with Hideous Entity beforehand, that record now becomes a stepping stone to Harvest Of Malevolence. In a way we can now view the three current albums by the band as an evolutionary trilogy in songwriting and identity. This is no longer a band with something to prove, but rather proving why they made it in the first place, and then why they’re still amongst the pinnacle of death metal today. Hyperdontia have come an extremely long way in a short span of time and this is a record I and many others surely will play front to back numerous times over. With that said, not all of Hyperdontia’s secrets will be uncovered here with just one listen alone which just makes revisiting this record all the more satisfying. Easily amongst the best written death metal so far this year and will likely end up amongst many people’s top records for 2024.

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