Hypoxia – Defiance (Selfmadegod Records)

Monday, 19th February 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Change can be constant in the realm of underground metal. New York City-based death metal act Hypoxia formed in 2008, currently featuring a mix of members old and new for this third record Defiance with ties to some well-regarded acts in the movement. New bassist Mike Poggione and vocalist Mike Hrubovcak spent time in Monstrosity, while new guitarist Ryan Moll is in Rumpelstilskin Grinder – with others having ties to Vile, Secrecy, and Castator among others. Experience permeates this eleven-track offering, a healthy example of old school brutality with equal influences pulled from the US as well as European branches that put this style on the map for the early 90s.

Astute abilities in shifting speeds or modes from thrash to blasting death beyond the left field fills or supreme bass line runs ensures no boredom in this album song to song. Check out the scatter shot, progressive tremolo / tempo madness that sends your body into convulsive mode for “Correlated Embolism”, Mike injecting savage, rhythmic growls plus the occasional sadistic scream to punctuate key words as the whammy bar comes to prominence in the lead break segment. At other times, thick walls of riffs thrash about, drummer Carolina Perez comfortably navigating all the quick turns of tempo or feel from controlled death to blasting measures to make “Agonized Asphyxia” another instant classic. Sensible construction never allows these songs to fall into technical waters – there’s always the circular hook or controlled heavy part that swirls about in that old Death / Sepultura way, which then makes the subsequent speed bursts even more effective. Spacious, melodic sequences during certain instrumental sections of “Black Omens” offset the aggressive verses, the lead breaks constructed carefully to send the listener on a thoughtful journey. A calmer “Overture” and “Finale” bookend the nine main songs, short acoustic instrumentals that mold seamlessly into the group’s approach as you feel the blistering energy ripping through the thrashy, semi-progressive death metal platform.

Those who remember the work of Sinister, Vader, early Suffocation pushing headfirst into the catalogs of Death or Sepultura will succumb to the performances from Hypoxia. The year is off to a great start through Defiance – a record that should appease all ardent followers of the old school underground.

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