It goes without saying that Hyper is a complicated man. All of his albums to date have had a masterful control over aggression, which can be attributed to life experiences from the main man himself or subtle commentary on an aspect of life that is usually dismissed, or lobbied for on breakfast TV. His controlled aggression is also what made both previous albums "We Control" and "Suicide Tuesday" both rather honest and raw records and it’s no different for his latest, "The Panic."
With the explosion of aggressive sound over the last year and dubstep’s meteoric rise to the peak of public conscious, Hyper’s sound would fit right in, but without the meat-headed, steroid powered nonsense. Hyper transcends all of that, the blood sweat and tears Guy Hatfield (Hyper) has put into this really does show.
I bought his last album “Suicide Tuesday," and ended up reviewing it during my stint at inthemix. Through each release, Guy pops in a message or two, if you’ve seen it; “We Control” had a very poignant album cover, with a child standing in front of riot police, "Suicide Tuesday," an arm with blood spatters peppered across every corner of the cover. When you listen to each album from start to finish, you’ll find that progressively, Hyper has done away with a primary focus on electronics and shifted it towards songwriting, and evoking imagery not just through his sound but also through lyricism.
Hyper doesn’t do too much in between albums in terms of having a consistent output, he has the occasional single release and remix, but each album is kind of a milestone on the mans belt. So in that, we start with the opener (worryingly titled) “The End.” This is a track that thrashes out a powerful lead guitar riff beneath some fantastic vocals from Axe projecting some interesting lyrics “Rise above they ain’t gonna win / Rise above to fight ain’t a sin.” Don’t let it deter you though; it’s one of many highlights on the album, as it holds the kind of anger and grief that a listener can identify with straight away. It’s powerful.
“Machine” is a representation of a track that would fit perfectly in an indie movie about teenagers skateboarding and having sex. It’s an image that you can immediately gather upon listening to it. With a catchy as hell riff that dominates the track throughout and the beeps and screeches that add to the character the vocals already present on the track.
In what is now a popular move amongst many, a salute to the past will make an appearance somewhere and “Beyond the Rave” is a tongue in cheek kind of “holler” to the old skool days of the rave. This one is a solid pumping tune, with a grizzly bassline, diva vocal cuts, and some great rave keys, I had it turned up nice and loud and once it’s loud this sounds even more fantastic.
On “Cheap Thrill,” Axe’s vocals are pushed to their limits, and my god do they sound absolutely magnificent, Axe manages to keep up with the energy provided by Hatfield with lyrics like “You used to be my cheap thrill / You used to be my joyride now I'm dead inside.” Once again, Hatfield achieves this raw, honest imagery, boosted by Axe’s sexy, cheeky vocals and with a killer tempo, energy and kickass drums.
Toward the end of the album, the energy begins to subside, don’t take that as a sign that this slows down. It doesn’t, it just goes deeper. “Tear the Silence” starts with a building piano that plays out into synths that grind and vocals that tell of struggle “You tear the silence, you're breaking my soul.” This is the emotional peak for the album, with the track providing a welcome fall from the more energetic tempo you would have experienced through ¾’s of the album.
I always have massive expectations for an album's closing track and Hyper delivers a gem of a closer. It’s the perfect end titles music; it’s the perfect fight the boss music. Hyper has specifically designed this song to play out his album. A track that takes his trademark aggressive guitar riff cuts it up over a delicious breakbeat and a just slowly builds into it all. Hyper isn’t trying to be extravagant; instead he’s closing the story on the album; just like Hyper’s done in the past.
But this track encompasses everything that is terrific about Hyper, and the title “I See Fire,” could also be interpreted as a euphemism for “seeing the light.” How the audience sees it is a matter of the listener's interpretation. My interpretation had me thinking of Hyper showing us the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s all going to be alright, or we see the light to a higher place. Maybe I’m looking into it too much! Maybe Hatfield is just saying after all of this, things still burn. But “I See Fire,” closes the album out in a massive way, no lyrics, just Hyper and his sound.
I know I’m nitpicking, but I would have loved to see a return from Odissi on a track or two, Axe really is splendid, but Odissi has such a razor edged tongue when she vocalizes. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the layers Hyper pulls back from each release make him an enigma of sorts. On one hand he’s making gritty, aggressive electronic music, and that can be deterrent, but "The Panic" has got so much heart and backstory to it, that it doesn't matter. It’s why he’s such a stand out talent, he doesn’t just make great music, but the energy and thought put into it just adds to its brilliance. I can’t recommend this enough.