Shanghai’s Spill Your Guts are the kind of band that pretty much everyone needs in their lives. Though nominally a hardcore band, their style of music takes in much more than that descriptor suggests, with previous releases Full Blast and Slip and Fall including plenty of elements taken from black metal, crossover, and full-on thrash metal. Theirs is an energetic, invigorating sound that is all but guaranteed to brighten your day and add a burst of energy. Full length Hungry Crows builds on what has gone before, pushing the energy levels even higher, and is the best thing the band have done so far.
Right from the first moments of opener ‘Riotica’, it’s clear that Hungry Crows is going to be a bright, powerful listen. Guitar leads and riffs that draw as much from metal as they do the likes of Propagandhi abound, whilst the drums throw in blast-beats along with the more traditional punk rhythms. The vocals are passionate and strong, and though it’s not always clear what’s being said, they convey the confidence and determination of the band perfectly.
Were this just a straight-forward hardcore release, it would still be among the better albums of the genre released this year. But what sets Hungry Crows – and Spill Your Guts – apart are the more metal-influenced moments. Second track ‘Praise The Fire’ opens with blasts and a blackened, tremolo-picked riff before seguing smoothly in to a more traditional metal melody, that combines expertly with the hardcore elements surrounding it. Short dual-guitar leads pulled straight from the classic metal playbook help illuminate songs such as ‘Get Impaled’, whilst when the wonderfully titled ‘No Visas For The Wicked’ shifts from black metal fury to a more mid-tempo, traditional metal section, it is one of the highlights of the record in an album full of them.
No matter how punishing the music gets, or how grim some of the guitar movements are, there’s always the feeling that Spill Your Guts want the listener to be having a good time. There’s a sense of humour in song titles like ‘Satan 3 (some)’, and that sense of fun is consistently present in Hungry Crows. It’s not the kind of record that dwells in a negative frame of mind. As on previous releases, there’s a contagious sense of energy, and a sense of self-awareness that shows that Spill Your Guts don’t take themselves too seriously, even if they are creating some seriously good music. Whilst most other bands who combine black metal elements with punk or hardcore do so from a position of misanthropy or nihility – just think of the imagery associated with the blackened crust scene (Dishammer aside, of course!) – Spill Your Guts instead do so because the combination of those sounds is fun, both to play and listen to, providing a half hour adrenaline rush and feel-good atmosphere. Spill Your Guts are one of the best hardcore bands out there right now, and deserve to be way bigger than they currently are. Hungry Crows might just be the album to do that, as this is excellent from start to finish.
Hungry Crows is available to download and stream via Bandcamp, as well as Spotify, iTunes store, Google Play and other major platforms.