WORDS: Eddie Sims
It’s been a long four years since we last heard anything from camp HACKTIVIST with regards to their debut. We knew they were recording something but beyond that no one had the foggiest idea what was going on, but because of how damn impressive their first load of output was everyone waited with open arms for the promised debut full length. Having finally released it to the masses in all its down tuned glory, the question still remains; Is the HACKTIVIST sound still as ground breaking as it was 4 years ago?
Outside The Box, the title to this highly anticipated debut sees a reflection to their sound when compared to their peers. Having a sound that fuses the heavy and fast lyrical delivery of UK Grime with massive 8-string grooves, it certainly sounds something different, even after all this time, hearing the venom soaked verses of Buszy and No Way Back perfectly at home with the colossal riffs that lay beneath them.
Lyrically, the album never swerves to far away from the standard call to arms, us-vs-them malarkey that has always been so prevalent within the alternative scene, but it certainly detracts from the creativity of the album, ultimately becoming predictable. Taken and Deceive And Defy are both the immediate exceptions, with the former being a track that boasts a proper attempt at a major chorus that to carry the song and in doing so pulls off a reasonable job thanks to the great feature from ENTER SHIKARI’s Rou Reynolds. The latter is firmly cemented within a monster groove and features two brilliant verses from J Hurley and Ben Marvin about the hard work put in by his band to get to the position they are now.
Despite all of these great features of the album, it feels like there have been a couple of missteps with the debut. Despite boasting being outside the box, the best track on the album is the most through and through Grime song the band have made, Rotten, and features brilliant guest spots from both vocalists of ASTROID BOYZ. Tracks like Elevate still swing as hard as they’ve done, especially the far more aggressive re-record the album features, but seeing as it’s had 4 more years to settle than the others, it almost feels like a wasted slot were another new song could’ve gone. It feels like this with The Storm, playing the role of the poxy filler track that does literally but disrupt the flow of the album. This could have easily been taken out and replaced with something far more deserving of a slot on this debut.
By the end of Outside The Box, it’s clear that this isn’t going to re-ignite the hype that they once had back when they first erupted onto the scene. Despite this, it gives them a solid platform in order to work on regaining that momentum. There are to many missteps and fumbles for this album to truly live up to the hype it’s been subjected to. It’s a shame that this album couldn’t have dropped four years earlier, as it would’ve undoubtedly been met with roaring success.
Outside The Box is out now via UNFD