Hybrid Sheep - Hail to the Beast - (7.5/10)
Published on August 29, 2017
French Hybrid Sheep’s second album Hail to the Beast comes with the often dreaded deathcore tag that their debut Free From the Clutches of Gods had given them and especially given the state of the subgenre of late, that seems more of a threat than a promise. Now the band from Arenthon seems to have made some adjustments between the two albums, because while Hail to the Beast still has a few deathcore moments, the focus has shifted to a heavier and modern version of melodic death metal, which seems to be working well for the French flock.
Starting out with an awesome cover artwork, Hail to the Beast kicks off with “Warface”, a blazing romp through the heavier side of melodic death metal, tight as a duck’s rear, with high screams and growls for variety and some nice atmospheric passage to boot, it sets the pace nicely. And Hybrid Sheep have their best moments, when they balance the heaviness and melody, such on “Towards Ruin and Oblivion”, instrumental centre piece “The Last Breath of a Dying Earth” or the title track, while also having some of the most blistering melodic solos this side of the alps on offer, “The World Eater” and “Hail to the Beast” stand at the fore for this.
Now the few remaining deathcore moments can be found on “Towards Ruin and Oblivion” as well as closing “Into the Lion’s Den” and as soon as they hit, the flow gets disrupted and all the nice dynamics they built up come to a screeching halt, proving right then and there, why their style adjustment was a good idea and there should be hope that these last remnants will be flung to the beast as well. That aside, “Premature Burial” goes for a far more aggressive and modern approach, fast, chuggy, in your face, the melodic sensibility they had used with such deft hand before took a hike on this one and unfortunately it does leave a stale after taste.
What remains is a mostly positive impression, which is characterized by an extremely tight performance and a good hand for injecting good melodies into a modern and heavy framework of melodic death metal, only marred by the last surviving deathcore elements that really put a stick into the wheel and create negative momentum that the quintet has to overcome. That being said, though, Hail to the Beast has the definitive potential to appeal to fans of melodic death and traditional death metal, if they can cope with some more modern elements (and disregard the deathcore) and should give Hybrid Sheep some good mass appeal out there.