Heccra is an experimental post-hardcore band that nearly defies the label itself. The band starts with the basic post-hardcore template, dynamic guitar work, screams, and blast beats and adds onto them with elements of glitch, electronics, pitch-shifted vocals that brings a refreshing newfound energy to something that has seemingly been stagnant for some time, a sound that a friend of mine describes as “sounding like Agoraphobic Nosebleed and The Blood Brothers falling down a flight of stairs.”
When I first listened to Heccra I heard ‘VHS Porn’ which struck me as an enjoyable little tune but I wasn’t really expecting what the rest of the album would hold for me from listening to that one song. The first track starts out strong, ‘Brain Damage Is My Friend’ hits hard as thick drums trample their way through the song but then, half way through these pitch-shifted Alvin and the Chipmunks-esque vocals make a brief appearance. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it, they felt a little out of place, I was almost kind of shocked by how ridiculous it was but as soon as the second track hit the sound seemed appropriate in this strange way, they just kind of fit in as these quirky background elements that complimented the character of the album itself, it is a fun idea that just seems to work. One of my favorite things about ‘White Eagle’ is the amount of diversity on this album, with some songs incorporating glitch and small bits of electronics into their music while others such as ‘VHS Porn’ containing influences from garage rock showcasing a rawer tone; no matter how many times I listen to the album I don’t find myself growing bored of it. Heccra keeps things short and to the point and with none of the tracks reaching over the 2 minute mark it is hard to not be interested because just as you are getting tired of hearing something the track is over.
The quality is great with all of the instruments coming through clearly, even over bombardment of the drums, most of which sounds like they are either triggered or generated by a drum machine, they have that distinct clicking sound which I am normally not very fond of but within the context of what Heccra is trying to do it is a welcomed sound that works well with the other aspects of their music such as the brief glitchy breaks that they sprinkle so delicately throughout. The melodies on a lot of the tracks such as ‘Shitty Water’ and ‘A.M.’ are dangerously catchy and fuse perfectly with all of the electronic elements of Heccra that make for a piece of music that is just as fun as it is both complex and smart in songwriting. The thunderous riffs on ‘A.M.’ come through so clearly and just as the vocals come in these pretty synth-like sounds further add to the catchiness of Heccra’s craft. The vocals range from wild screams to gang vocals that bring the song to an energetic singable climax.
When I first heard Heccra I wasn’t really sure what to make of it but after a few listens it was hard not to get caught up in all of the creativity ‘White Eagle’ brings to post-hardcore music, it is all very refreshing and fun. With all of the pitch-shifted chipmunk style vocals it kind of left me feeling on the fence at first but I think this is a testament to what hardcore music should be able to do; innovate, progress, and just be a fun experience that pushes the boundaries of what a certain genre should sound like. Of course, there will be people who dismiss this right off the bat because of the vocals but I think that what ‘White Eagle’ does is refreshing, fun, and definitely worth a listen, or a few hundred. It is also worth noting that there are two versions of the album, one with the pitch-shifted vocals and one without (Dropped).
Overall rating: 8.5
Favorite Track: Brain Damage Is My Friend,A.M., VHS Porn, Shitty Water
Recommended: A fun and energetic record deserving of your ears.