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HIPPOTRAKTOR Transcend To Higher Levels Of Heaviness, Continue Aural Odyssey Of Human Nature With Stasis

We get a LOT of records on the daily and obviously we can’t review all of them so what we do choose is kind of our version of the cream of the crop. At the end of the year we pick the best of all that and sometimes, there’s still bands that fall through the cracks of what we should be listening to regularly not because we don’t still love the hell out of ’em but more the next new shiny thing comes into play and our focus goes there for a bit.

And seriously? It bums us the fuck out when we revisit an album that ranked high on one of those lists and bask in its’ majesty and just think “Why are we not listening to this all day, every day”. But maybe it’s a self-preservation thing, too? We’ve definitely held off intentionally on over listening to something for fear of getting sick of it but with how many times we’ve listened to both HIPPOTRAKTOR’s last record Meridian (Which we reviewed AND placed at #5 on our year end list in 2021) and their upcoming one called Stasis over the past few weeks we think that fear might be unfounded.

Speaking of Stasis, this is the kind of record that compels us to start the draft for our annual year end list just so we can already make a placeholder at the top spot for it. Because it’s that good. It’s also a bit of a bittersweet release from the Belgium-based 5-piece at it was recently announced that HIPPOTRAKTOR and guitarist/vocalist Sander Rom (Also of the fabulous L’Itch which you can check out here) have mutually parted ways with MANKIND’s Kristof Du Jardin stepping in for live obligations at the moment. That said, it’s your last chance to hear those sweet vocal harmonies from Rom and vocalist Stefan de Graef on Stasis so if you needed any more reason to pick it up, there’s that one!

There’s also the tunes themselves as reason to pick it up and holy hell, has the band stepped things up considerably this time around which says something considering how perfect Meridian was (and still is). “Descent” puts your ears on blast immediately and then the familiar maw of de Graef opens wide with that familiar growl that’s both monstrous and melodic and all bets are off. As a whole, Stasis is always moving. Whether it’s Jakob Fiszer’s bass, Lander De Nyn’s drums, or Chiaran Verheyden and Rom’s guitars, something is always propelling the momentum forward like constantly being on the edge of your seat and this all around sense of unrest building into something. And the payoff is so rewarding.

“Echoes” practically soars from there with de Graef’s clean vocals bouncing off of Rom’s verses as the tune sways between a constant swelling motion and a technical start/stop force that’s led by De Nyn’s steady hands. “Silver Tongue” is as sleek as it is sinister serving as a nice prelude for the monumental “Renegade” which is the most obvious connection to the continuing story of human nature that HIPPOTRAKTOR began on Meridian (Especially to album opener “Manifest The Mountain”) unfolding over a sprawling seven minutes and amidst gorgeous vocal passages and gargantuan mountains of riffs.

“The Indifferent Human Eye” is subtle and probably the only time we’d think to compare HIPPOTRAKTOR to anyone with the way the opening quietly crawls like the quieter moments of Tool’s Lateralus but then a huge vocal line erupts and the song immediately transforms into something else entirely. Then there’s the title track which is absolutely crushing. Is it the defining moment of the record? Possibly. Is it that “payoff” we talked about earlier? Most likely. Starting with a monolithic wall of djent-like progressive riffage that is only exacerbated once de Graef begins to scream, “Stasis” ventures into a trance-like state of heaviness with the kinds of sounds being hurled into your headspace and featuring some of the best vocal work from both Rom and de Graef. In contrast, “The Reckoning” is euphoric almost serving as the perfect comedown following “Stasis” with all of HIPPOTRAKTOR getting one more chance to collectively shine during the course of this majestic aural odyssey.

Stasis drops from Pelagic Records on June 7th with pre-orders available now and found when you click here. For more from HIPPOTRAKTOR, follow them across the information superhighway by clicking here or here.

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