Serious Beak - Huxwhukw (Own Label)

It's seriously mental metal...
Release Date: 
26 Nov 2011 - 12:30am

Serious Beak could easily be named Serious Freak because this band is delightfully left of centre. I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce their album title Huxwhukw, although according to the band’s press release Huxwhukw is “..the supernatural long-beaked cannibal bird and servant to Baxwbakwalnuksiwe”. Glad we got that cleared up.

Baxwbakwalanuksiwe (I suspect the spelling depends on the press blurb you received) is the opening track and it’s all very mellow, gorgeous echoing guitars but mark my words, it is no benchmark for the rest of the album.

Han opens with about three seconds of heaviness then it’s all twangy guitars again. To my ear, it's reminiscent of flamenco jazz and has some nice layers of acoustic and electric guitar with some lovely harmonics ringing out at all the right intervals - it’s a couple of minutes in before it gets heavy again but then the bass starts to slither about like an angry brown snake and the song gets bigger and madder with howling synths leading into a absolutely mental climax. Phew! Glad I was sitting down for that one.

Swagger walks an odd line between metal and rock and/or roll but it’s punctuated with those now familiar harmonics against dischordant riffs. I’m reminded of a slightly less complicated version of Blotted Science. The track ends with fading bass and guitar (my notes say ‘like a broken cowboy’ but I don’t even recall what that means...) I only know that I’m loving it. This fade-out leads into Godel !Xun (yes, the track titles are most fruity) which leads us by the ears upwards from the previous track. A lovely mellow number, indeed.

Serious Beak cite (among others) Mastadon, Secret Chiefs 3 and Dillinger Escape Plan as influences on their music, and you can kind of recognise this on the track Tui/Tuo, It commences with grinding guitars and crisp drums; a feast of chaos that is broken up with the soothing echoing guitar parts. We take a deep breath and are thrown back into the chaotic sea of noise. There’s some subtle screeching on the song but, as yet, there haven’t been any vocals. An instrumental album of madness. Groovy. Anhrefen open with what sounds like bone trumpets – the guitars are sharp and the odd percussion and time changes are like flicking between the channels of some crazed heavy metal TV show and a children’s puppet show. Sporas is similar yet different but it has piano and weird sampling thrown into the mix. It goes totally wild then drops in with a splash of piano or jangly guitars and the solos are a blur of screaming notes. Strap yourself in for this one.

Lahendama is a wild beast of a tune, with stamping guitars and punchy drums; it almost slips into outright metal but something (I know not what) pulls it back and takes the tune in other directions. Fljota almost reintroduces the echoing guitars from the start of the album; it reminds me of indigenous music (Mexican, Tibetan or Peruvian? Perhaps all three...) and has a rising chant, the closest thing you get to a vocal line on the album, and it finishes in a trippy reverse play, which speeds up into pure noise.

The final track Taheu Nadryvy, Taneu! is chock-full of pumping bass and spastic rhythms; it finishes rather suddenly and I noted that I was left wanting more. Surely a good sign? I have to say I really liked this album although it is difficult to review due to the mix of chaos and order within the music.

The band describes their work thus: “...mind-melting, toe-tapping, psychedelic, progressive and poly-rhythmic dischordant music”.  A strangely accurate description. And for you lucky peeps in Sydney, Serious Beak will be launching their album on the 26th November at The Lansdowne Hotel. I suspect it will be a bloody interesting evening...