Shai Hulud – Reach Beyond the Sun

“Welcome to a new age” declare Shai Hulud. A new age it might be but this band are old hands and show us in the opening lines of this new album the very sound that has gone on to influence so many of today’s bands. Despite their absence in recent years, they prove here that they are able to remain current in an ever changing musical market. Lyrically ‘Mean Spirit11183_JKTs Breathing’ is a worthy tribute to their good friend Danny Bobis of Cipher who died in 2011; anyone who has lost someone and can think of people whose lives they would rather trade to get one more moment with that person will be able to relate to the line “Mean spirits breathing befoul the air.”

On this album Shai Hulud remain true to their founding corner stone of writing songs about issues that they believe in, or that they have a strong opinion about. Main song writer Matt Fox appears to live in a dark hole of chaos absorbing what is going on in the world around him and being able to validate his own opinion on topics which are far more relative to many people in modern society than some of what is broadcast on mainstream radio. That is what makes this band still relevant in 2013. Such lyrical inspiration can be seen in younger bands such as the UK’s The Ocean Between Us and  title track ‘Reach Beyond the Sun’ is an example of this, telling us that only we can get ourselves out of what it is that gets us down “Our days are as bleak as we permit, Reach beyond the sun.”

Shai Hulud have faced their own share of band and personal battles in pulling this album together over the last six or so years and maybe (although written prior to their last album ‘Misanthropy Pure’) ‘If A Mountain Be My Obstacle’ sits appropriately on this album as  an ode to the fight they have had to get here.

Musically ‘A Human Failing’ takes a change from the earlier tracks on the album, a steadier more metal beat which enables Shai Hulud to maximise the guitar riffage to best effect and this is certainly one of the best tracks on this album and the musical changes do not stop there, but continue with the head fuck of a track both in both title and sound ‘Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With The Pain Of Living’. This song chops and changes sound and pace around each verse or chorus and left me feeling like I had had a pleasantly disturbing experience with some dark force of the world. Undoubtedly the stand out track on this albumnathanielshannon_huludgroup_churchhills_miami05 for me.

As more of a metaller it is the heart of the album ‘A Human Failing’ and  ‘Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With The Pain Of Living’ that I like the most, but I like bands that push my boundaries and Shai Hulud do exactly that. They wrap my comfy place with blunt, to the point songs such as ‘To Suffer Fools’, the tight thunderous drumming on ‘Think the Adder Benign’ and poignant songs such as the album opener ‘Mean Spirits Breathing’. Only two months into 2013 there have been some stunning album releases across various genres and this is one of them. The musical youth need to sit up, get real and listen to this album and get life’s lessons from Shai Hulud, before they encounter them themselves.

Rating:  8/10

Track Listing:

  1. The Mean Spirits, Breathing
  2. I, Saturine
  3. Reach Beyond the Sun
  4. A Human Failing
  5. Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With The Pain Of Living
  6. Medicine to the Dead
  7. To Suffer Fools
  8. Think the Adder Benign
  9. Monumental Graves
  10. If a Mountain Be My Obstacle
  11. At Least a Plausible Case for Pessimism

Band Lineup: Matt Fox, “Mad” Matt Fletcher, Tony DelMonego, Matt Covey, Chad Gilbert (vocals on this album)

Band Links:

About Heather Fitsell

I have been photographing bands predominantly in the London area since 2008. I have photographed in venues as small as pubs and as big as Manchester MEN arena. I have photographed local bands and the likes of Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy, Black Stone Cherry, Alterbridge, Evanescence and many more. I have also photographed at Hevy Fest for the last two years and previously ran my own webzine, before I decided to focus more on my photography.