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The Hirsch Effekt – Kollaps Award winner

The Hirsch Effekt
by Santiago Puyol at 01 June 2020, 5:00 PM

THE HIRSCH EFFECT are a German Progressive Metal band, or Art-Core as they define themselves, a label that surely fits this trio. "Kollaps", their latest album, is the follow-up to 2017’s "Eskapist", and their fifth full-length overall. With a rich, eclectic sound and an Avant-Garde approach to songwriting, this band covers a great amount of musical ground and deal with unusual song structures, fusing elements of disparate genres and showing off their technical chops. "Kollaps" is also a concept record, dealing with the ecological and economical decay in modern societies.

Diverse percussion elements provide an immersive tribal feel on opener "KRIS," having an almost danceable rhythm and adding beautiful colours and timbres to the song. Its instrumental intro features some beautiful layering of the guitar, leading into potent guitar stabs that punch you right in the face. Nils Wittrock’s vocals carry a Post-Punk era style on his cleans (think Morten Harket from A-HA meets David Byrne from TALKING HEADS). He sound dramatic, perfectly accentuated by delicate yet sinister piano playing, shining on its powerful chorus. There is some truly exquisite vocal layering, almost choral in feel on the final chorus, while the brief use of harsh vocals near the end function as a release of all the tension accumulated throughout the track.

"NOJA" follows, a slice of demented Mathcore with a punchy groove, that feels like a less abrasive version of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. Ilja Lappin’s bass has a bit of a warm tone to it, that pairs nicely with the aggressive attack of the guitar and drums combo. There is a weird, jazzy interlude, with CHON-esque guitar work and the addition of almost rapped vocals from guest ANOKI is an interesting touch, extremely unexpected.

"DEKLARATION" ups the stakes and goes brutal, dense and complex. Wittrock’s weird vocals affectations bring MR. BUNGLE and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME to mind, while more choral-like harmonies in the mix feel soothing amidst the chaos. An exercise in duality. Flows perfectly into "ALLMENDE", the heaviest and most straightforward track on the record, with slight Metalcore and Djent influence on the guitar work.

Lone guitar introduces "DOMSTOL" via classically inspired soloing. For its first two minutes, the song goes full-on QUEEN-esque ballad, with slightly distorted guitar arpeggios and theatrical vocals. It explodes into aggressive Extreme Hardcore violence suddenly. The syncopated vocal delivery adds an uneasy feel. The band even decides to throw in some random samples as a fun touch. It surely feels like a focused Avant-Garde song. It gives way to "moment", a little string section interlude and delightful respite from all the intensity.

"TORKA" introduces Industrial and Post-Metal elements into THE HIRSCH EFFECT’s sound. A track with a sinister feel, and although it is not necessarily the heaviest track here, it surely is one of the darkest on "Kollaps" overall. There is a bit of a Middle-Eastern flair to the vocal harmonies. It builds slowly but slaps hard when it finally blows up; a track that grows and grows, like a menacing beast. There’s a descending guitar pattern, slightly echoey, that gets repeated several times, and it feels so brooding and evil. It is one of my favourite moments of the record. It connects with "BILEN" via some sci-fi sounding synths. "BILEN" is another Metalcore-ish banger. Technically proficient and pulverizing.

The title track and also longest song in here goes for a Gothic effect with its synthesizer-heavy intro. Moritz Schmidt lays down some jazzy, syncopated grooves. The way he plays around what seems to be a 6/8 time signature perfectly fits with the dissonant and almost-random guitar noises. The feel is weird and otherworldly. The transition into common time that comes a few minutes in, is perfectly executed and seamless. Some PORCUPINE TREE influences seem to appear. An abrupt heavy explosion appears halfway in, adding tension to the main harmony, something that makes the change fit even when everything sounds a little off. A nice trick to make the listener feel the unrest and unease. It bleeds right into closer "AGERA."

"AGERA" features a cinematic and melancholic orchestral arrangement with its melody taking a couple of cues from the title track and "KRIS", making the album come full circle. The track has a strong 80’s Post-Punk quality to its songwriting on the first half. Midway through it explodes into jazzy and groovy Progressive Metal stylings, with tasteful soloing, delicate synth work and rhythmically complex patterns. It makes a complete left-turn on its final third that has to be listened so I am not spoiling it, but it makes for an emotional, stunning and powerful finale.

Overall, "Kollaps" is an outstanding album from this German trio. THE HIRSCH EFFECT succeed in delivering a passionate, entertaining and powerful album, one that goes for both technical proficiency and emotional connection. The songwriting and musicianship are impressive all the way, the hooks are there and production-wise there is little to complain about if anything at all. A superb effort.

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

5 Star Rating

6. moment
Nils Wittrock – Vocals and Guitar
Ilja Lappin – Bass
Moritz Schmidt – Drums
ANOKI – Guest vocals in "NOJA"
Record Label: Long Branch Records


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