Making sure 2023 goes out on a blistering finish, Kirkcaldy’s masked Metalcore/Groove Metal quintet H8teball drop their six-track, twenty-three-minute EP Heathen in the dying embers of the year. If, like me, you loved their four-track EP Undead back in 2020 for that grove-rich sound and snarling vocal delivery, this time around, you will have even more to sink your teeth into.
H8teball – Heathen
Release Date: 30 December 2023
Words: Jools Green
“The idea of the EP is to get some pent-up anger off of our chests,” vocalist Daniel ‘Shaggy’ Shannon said. “We like to do songs about the shit that needs sorting on this ball of hate we call Earth.”
H8teball lives by one motto: “Cause mayhem as heavy as we can, and if people enjoy that, then woop woop…. bonus….”
The first track, Rise, with fuzzy and ominous riffing to open, builds with rapid militaristic beats, dropping back to a dark, fuzzy, slightly doomy, heavy soundscape as the snarling vocal delivery arrives. There’s also a lovely melodic element that courses subtly beneath. A track with a huge amount going on, and overall, it’s a weighty beast that delivers.
Shallow Graves brings the pace up a touch, unleashing a rapid blast of riffing and drum work, again, with a sinister, restrained but effective, melodic undercurrent. Vocally, you get a great mix of higher screams alongside the growls, which builds depth and texture to the sound. Another great track that repeatedly assaults your senses in unrelenting waves.
Heathen bursts forth with a hypnotic repeat that develops an increasingly sinister aspect, the phrasing switching to punchier mode during the choral repeats. I do love this track a lot. It has an almost ritualistic feel, and Shaggy’s vocals are even more impactful than ever here, too.
Slaves brings something a little different into the mix. With its extended spoken intro and slow, precise pace, it suddenly elevates as the growling vocals arrive, which have excellent intonation and protraction, as well as rising in waves to match the riffing. Once it gets going, it’s about as groovy and addictive as a track can get.
Get Fucked is fuzzy, groovy and catchy. It says what it means and means what it says, coming in punching and kicking midway through like an angry heavyweight champion, and you get some interesting vocal intonation, too.
The final piece, Disgrace, is sharp to open, and Shaggy’s protraction on his opening scream is pretty impressive. The gritty groove punctuates with sharp, squealy guitar bursts, both impactful and catchy in equal measures.
H8teball certainly continue “to make as much mayhem as possible, whilst sounding heavy doing so” with Heathen. It, like its predecessor, sounds great as a result. Long may it continue.
Heathen will be available as a physical CD and as a digital download via Bandcamp and on streaming services.
Go fill your ears with some heavy, cathartic joy.