Hässlig / Apex Predator Is Delightfully Filthy And Brutal

Following his two EPs, Guillotine in 2021 and Deathlust in 2023, Spanish recluse D.B., also the mastermind behind the Black Metal projects Negativa and Délirant, returns with his first full-length studio offering, Apex Predator. It is a slab of “primitive, demented and necrotic raw Black Metal/punk filth” from his aptly named Black Metal/punk project Hässlig, which means ugly in German.

Hässlig – Apex Predator (Sentient Ruin)

Release Date : 3 May 2024 

Words: Jools Green

Content-wise, Apex Predator is “conjured through the eyes of all criminals, serial killers, and of the absolute scum of this earth” and musically is a “sickening and cruelty-worshipping audial delirium inspired by punk-infused bands like Bone Awl and Ildjarn.” 

With “subtle touches of Oi! punk and post-punk thrown in the mix to metastasize a disorienting and trance-like defilement of triumphant sonic squalor,” the result is a heady, face-searing and very engaging listen.

Hässlig - D.B., also the mastermind behind the Black Metal projects Negativa and Délirant.
Hässlig – D.B., also the mastermind behind the Black Metal projects Negativa and Délirant.

Apex Predator delivers twelve tracks spanning a compact thirty-six minutes. So, most pieces are concise, straight-to-the-point offerings. The consistent trademark to the sound, end to end, is the distorted, indecipherable, otherworldly vocals. They are as intriguing as they are engaging, adding a huge amount of atmosphere along with the thick density to the music, delivering an aural assault that is almost a sensory overload. 

The drum work delivers either an intense Black Metal style with huge walls of drum battery or a punk-fuelled d-beat. Either way, it adds to the density and thickness of sound.

Hässlig edge you into the album relatively gently, in an extreme Metal manner. The first piece, Yellow Bile, opens and ends on a searing guitar squeal. There are ominous blackened riffs at a punchy mid-pace over a d-beat with a gentle ebb and build, just enough to engage you.

This slides neatly into the next piece, Slaves. The pace is a little quicker, and the riffing is rawer. All very easy on the ear, but from the next piece, Flesh And Bone, the pace picks up further, and things start to develop a maniacal feel to the delivery and pace. 

Body Snatcher ramps things up further. It’s a pacy d-beat fuelled, up-tempo driver. By the time we get to the title track, Apex Predator, the pace is decidedly dramatic in its variance. Part insanely fast, part almost doomy, this variance is breathtakingly good.

Abgrund delivers a searing edge to the riffing alongside a blackened undercurrent, whereas Watch Them Hang pares back briefly and is a slower, more ominous, blackened piece. On Siege, you also get a spoken element. It is just as vaguely indecipherable yet intriguing as the main vocals. A driver of a track that just stops dead dramatically. 

Raping The Exoskeleton Of Life has a superbly blackened drive with insanely intense swathes dropped in for good measure and dramatic effect. The mid-point brief drop is equally as dramatic. You also get very sharp direction switches. A great track and possibly my favourite.

Shattered is another up-tempo piece with undulating waves of driving riffs, and Psychopathic Triumph is blackened, intense and driving, again with a dramatic midpoint pause. 

The final piece is, very suitably, a Midnight cover, the legendary track Unholy And Rotten, which originally featured on the first Midnight demo as well as several releases afterwards. This version stays largely true to the original but is just filthier, more distorted vocally and thicker. It’s a great cover.

Apex Predator is in total a delightfully filthy and brutal offering that should be of interest to fans of Ildjarn, Bone Awl, Darkthrone, Ritual Knife, Raspberry Bulbs, Invunche, Slavehouse and Midnight. 

Available in Vinyl, cassette or digital format, with a digital download included with the purchase of physical copies. All formats can be pre-ordered via: 

Apex Predator | Hässlig (bandcamp.com) or HÄSSLIG | Apex Predator — Sentient Ruin

Sleeve Notes

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