If you involve yourself with the underground metal community in or around Seattle, Washington, chances are that by now you’ve heard rumors of a band called HISSING. As far as their Facebook page lets on, they’ve been together since last year and have played with some seriously incredible local and out-of-town bands, performing with PREDATORY LIGHT, CONNOISSEUR, ADDAURA, BADR VOGU, THE DRIP, and the late great BRAIN SCRAPER to name just a few. I finally caught Hissing live a couple weeks back when they opened up for WILT, ENDORPHINS LOST, and Canadian black crust legends ISKRA at Seattle’s DIY crown jewel, The Black Lodge, and they blew away everyone in the room, so I was stoked when our CVLT leader Sean asked me to review their debut release. Hopefully kids will see this and grant this band some of the widespread attention they deserve… and thankfully for those of you on the West coast and in Vancouver BC, Hissing’s about to embark on tour with doom metal warlocks UN, whose newest release was reviewed by CVLT Nation here. Read a little bit about the tape below, and if they roam near your town during the coming weeks, don’t miss them!
If bands like XASTHUR, VARDAN, and STRIBORG define what depression sounds like, then it fits to describe Hissing as anxious black metal – their self-titled EP is one of the most panicked, frantic-sounding tapes I’ve heard in the recent past. Dissonant, syncopated, and unsettling, it’s very much a black metal record in its aesthetic and delivery, but there’s a clear death metal influence in the riffs and song structures, giving the release a spastic, confusing, almost-but-not-quite-progressive feel. Fans of repetitive, overly hooky stuff may not find this up their alley, but those who dig more out-there, experimental acts like PORTAL or A GOD OR AN OTHER will find lots to appreciate here. The band messes with a unique amalgam of styles, and their doomy, atmospheric sections, like the middle of “Granero’s Eye,” meld well with faster, grindcore-esque parts, like the opening of “Frozen Shut.” Songs are just the right length, such that the listener can trip out a little and take a mild sonic journey on a track like “Callow Congress” without becoming bored or getting burned out. It’s also worth noting that thanks to the audio wizardry of engineer Ryan Schutte, this EP sounds exactly how a produced tape demo should – drums are just the right amount of buried in the mix, and bass and guitar wrap together in a beautifully analog low-end blanket.
It’s not unheard-of, but rarely is a debut release this put-together and methodical; the track list alternates between epics-of-sorts and more aggressive, straightforward songs, keeping things interesting throughout. The sheer heaviness of this album, the depth of the vocals, and the band’s tight, precise performance hold things together enough to make a coherent and solidly brutal product, despite the chaos. The cover art does a fine job of encapsulating and complementing the bleak, pitch-black disorder that takes place on this tape, and I refuse to go the entire length of this review without mentioning how sick of a logo Hissing have. If you only have time to stream one track from this record, make it closer “Pointless Rehearsal,” which demonstrates some of the band’s strongest riffs, and throws the listener possibly the most satisfying and climactic moments of the release, acting as a perfect end to the hyperventilating, tossing and turning monolith the listener’s just experienced. The record closes with a moan of harsh feedback into twinkling electronic deterioration, a final warning shot across the bow of those of us who might be getting too comfortable.
The EP can be purchased for $5 on Hissing’s Bandcamp page. Unfortunately for us, physical cassettes are sold out (we snoozed, we lost…), but word on the street is that a CD reissue will be coming this March. They’ve got some really good-looking shirts as well, which will be available on the Un tour and hopefully elsewhere afterwards. Keep an eye on the band’s Facebook for updates, peep their road dates below, and most importantly, tell your friends!
UN / HISSING WEST COAST TOUR 2016
3/24 – Vancouver, BC – Hindenburg – w/ Temple of Abandonment, Nightfucker
3/25 – Seattle, WA – Highline Bar – w/ Lycus, Eye of Nix
3/27 – Eugene, OR – TBA
3/28 – Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge – w/ Battle Hag
3/29 – Glendale, CA – Complex – Our Place of Worship is Silence, Cetacean
3/30 – Long Beach, CA – Que Sera – w/ Deathkings
3/31 – Oakland, CA – The Golden Bull – w/ Cardinal Wyrm, Worship
4/1 – Chico, CA – Cafe Coda Chico – w/ Cold Blue Mountain, Mountain King
4/2 – Portland, OR – High Water Mark Lounge – w/ HELL, Hiding
4/3 – OLYMPIA, WA – Obsidian