Acrania - Tyrannical Hierarchy, Vol. 1
Acrania have become a household name in the death metal community for the last few years, and for good reason: their album "Totalitarian Dystopia" is a blend of sheer brilliance and brutality. It's epicness has brought the band to the attention of thousands upon thousands of fans worldwide, who all share in the love of the bands filthy breakdowns, wild guitars and the insanity that is Luke Griffin's vocals. So when word got out that Acrania had a new EP to deliver, it came as no surprise that everyone lost their goddamn minds. The kings of bree are back, and we can only hope that "Tyrannical Hierarchy, Vol. 1" is the beginning of a whole new chapter for the band, because they are masters of their craft and this EP is so insanely good, it should skyrocket them to the top of the genre. If you sleep on these six tracks, you're seriously fucking up.
The album gets right into the chaos as "Scopolamine" kicks off the album and almost immediately throws you into the notorious "bree" Griffin is known for, followed by a breakdown so sinister, it would be a legitimate call for death if it was ever played live. A minute of pure insanity, and you can already tell you're good be in for one hell of a ride with this album. It leads right into "Exterminate the Liberated" which keeps the bruality going with some really wicked guitar riffs and two of the best-used samples in the history of death metal. There's a lot going on with this song; you'll want to give it a few listens before you miss just how nutty the blast beats get, Griffin's speed vocals, or the metal-as-fuck guitars as they blare away and melt your face off your body. This song - more than any others off "Tyrannical Hierarchy" - feels like it would have fit "Totalitarian Dystopia" all those years ago. "Gagged With Propaganda" is a truly special song, and the band brought along two of death metal's most underrated vocalists to help beef up an already beastly track: CJ McCreery of Lorna Shore (formerly Signs of the Swarm) and Ben Duerr of Shadow of Intent. If you're reading this and recognize these names, then you know this track was destined for greatness. Not only is it one of my favorite vocal performances by Griffin and his godly style and sound, but the guests absolutely slay their parts on this to craft a really incredible three-way masterpiece of filth. Nothing that I type here will ever do this song justice, so if you somehow haven't heard this track yet, drop. fucking. everything. and go jam this song, you'll thank me later.
"Tyrannical Hierarchy" doesn't let up (not even for a fraction of a second) as the album blasts on with "The Face of Humanity" and "The Isolation Experiment" - two disgusting displays of the finest extreme metal. The guitars on "The Face of Humanity" are not only some of my favorite off this album, but some of my favorite we've heard all year long. Super heavy and super demanding, and yet catchy in a crazy way. It's definitely one that will get you headbanging and keep you headbanging pretty much throughout the entire song. Same goes for the drums on this beast too: if you're a fan of fast, relentless, and clear and drums, "The Face of Humanity" is going to be for you. Drummer Jake Hadley destroyed his parts on this EP, delivering some downright brutal drum work that will physically leave you in awe. If drums are done right on an album in this style, they will only enhance the heaviness on the album and take it to the next level; and Hadley crushed it. After hearing his parts on this album, I can't help but think that Acrania would have to be one of the most insane bands to see live; it would be complete and utter chaos. "End1" brings the EP to its close, with some menacing brees and ferocious guitars. If this song doesn't get you moving, you better not have a fucking pulse.
So honestly, thinking about it, what makes "Tyrannical Hierarchy, Vol. 1" (as well as Acrania's previous releases) so highly praised in my eyes is that it's so different from a lot of the other metal we're getting every other day. In a weird way, this album is just FUN - and by that I mean, when I first put this on over my speakers I got totally caught up in it from the first second until the last. It got my head bouncing, my feet moving... it feels like Acrania aren't so much worried about sounding the most demonic or out-breakdowning any other bands; it feels like their focus was on writing a fun, sick sounding record. I understand that some of these songs were written before "Totalitarian Dystopia" was even written, so they weren't exactly written for this EP, but after listen upon listen (I haven't shut this thing off) the songs become more and more fun, and I just find myself enjoying these songs more than your standard "we need the heaviest breakdown" band we see so much of. I truly hope anyone reading this who hasn't already listened to the album (or if you have and didn't care for it the first time around) yet can understand where this is coming from and why 'Tyrannical Hierarchy" is now placed so high up on my albums for 2018. It's been a while since I've had THIS much fun listening to death metal, so to me, that speaks volumes. If, for whatever reason, Acrania weren't already on your radar, this EP should do the trick. Don't skip this one.