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The Hawkins - Aftermath Award winner

The Hawkins
Aftermath
by Mark Machlay at 23 November 2021, 6:40 AM

After releasing two successful full-length albums, Sweden’s THE HAWKINS are going a bit back to their roots with a mini-concept album titled “Aftermath” released October 5th, 2021. Their specific journey began back in March 2013, inside a huge park of local industries in which they built their own “Hawknest”: four walls of carpets and egg cartons where they began their legacy. Their first four years they stuck to releasing Eps and singles, albeit consistently, while being on the road playing everything from small venues to some of the biggest festivals in Scandinavia. This included “Sweden Rock Festival”, “Metallsvenskan”, and “Peace & Love”. By the end of 2016 were invited to Russia to support pop/punk act 4 APRILS on a 10-day tour. They spent some time woodshedding in the studio and their debut full-length “Ain’ Rock ‘N’ Roll” was released in October 2017. Bolstered by their strong anti-fascist song “Fuck You All I’m Outta Here”, they quickly gained attention in the Swedish rock scene. They supported the album by going on several tours in 2018 and brewing their own beer – an IPA titled in their usual give-no-shit fashion. “Fuck You All I’m Drinking Beer”. In 2020 they signed with The Sign Records and released their sophomore album “Silence is a Bomb” on September 4th, 2020.

Unfortunately, as is a familiar refrain from this year and last, the pandemic lockdown made it hard for the band since touring was off the table. THE HAWKINS, instead, decided to use this time and hunker down in the studio and create more music resulting in the delightful mini-concept album “Aftermath”. But before that was released, the band released the aptly titled live album, “In The  Woods” in which the band recorded live…in the woods! As guitarist and lead vocalist Johannes Carlsson put it, “I think Martin got the brilliant idea to play in the middle of the woods, with no walls and no roof. Just us and nature. So, we drove out in the woods to play in front of birds and a few mosquitos.” With that melancholia of being out in the woods, it seems to be reflected a bit in “Aftermath”, even though Johannes admits that some of the songs were things they had been working on during the making of “Silence is a Bomb”. The music was inspired by break ups and nights of panic attacks resulting in the album feeling like the five stages of grief.

THE HAWKINS seems to describe their sound as garage rock with some experimentation on “Aftermath”. I feel that terminology does a great disservice to what they have created with this mini-conceptual EP and honestly breaks genre walls. The band has always had quirky songwriting and a fairly fun-loving energy, but they take it to a next level here. The opening track “Turncoat Killer” is a perfect up-tempo, jangly rock & roll jaunt that hides sinister lyrics behind the poppy, snappy, emotion-filled singing that gets your blood pumping and people on the dance floor. But then it’s followed by “Fifth Try” with the epic and eclectic QUEEN mixed with that updated New Wave sound with such frenetic energy and a wonderful wild guitar solo. Funnily enough, the least energetic but one of the most experimental tracks, “SVÄÄNG”, acts as a bit of a centerpiece displaying more of that fight between the light and darkness. It’s understandable why they released it – wanting to show the evolution and style they’re growing into – but may be hard to digest for casual fans. “Jim and Kate” brings us back to a manic, bouncy style, almost like a circus is in town. Then there is the dark and brooding “Cut Me off Right”, delicately sparse with soft vocals and minimal instrumentation until later in the song when it explodes with COHEED AND CAMBRIA-like epic-ness, replete with guitar leads fiddling off into the ether. The title track closes instrumentally, an amazing post-lude for quite the journey for only 20 something minutes. THE HAWKINS have affirmed that they can entice in both the long and short form media, proving they are the real deal.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Turncoat Killer
2. Fifth Try
3. SVÄÄNG
4. Jim & Kate
5. Cut me off, right?
6. Aftermath
Lineup:
Johannes Carlsson – Guitar & Lead Vocals
Mikael Thunborg – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Martin Larsson – Bass & Backing Vocals
Albin Grill – Drums & Backing Vocals
Record Label: The Sign Records
     


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