EP Review: Crashtactics – The Hawk Is Out

Review from Ben Forrester

As an avid follower of Manchester’s DIY scene, I was very keen to hear the first fruits of labour from Crashtactics, due to its founding members being prevalent within the North West’s alt-rock community. Guitarist Alex is the head of super good noisy rock label Superstar Destroyer Records and drummer Sion use to play in New Hips, one of the cities most brilliantly odd-ball math outfits. The duo have played on some pretty tasty line ups since their formation in 2015, bringing their teched out brand of math-rock across the city, and now they’re finally ready to present their debut EP ‘The Hawk Is Out‘.

On listening to this four track EP, it’s clear to hear the amount of effort that has gone into its creation. Every track has been maliciously crafted, featuring complex, sprawling structures that encompass an array of genres and their emotive qualities, from spaced out psych tendencies to pumped up metal inspired break downs. What is so apparent here is the attention to detail the band have put in and each track is full of these beautiful little flourishes that propel these compositions into new realms of sonic splendour.

Opening track ‘Williams‘ immediately straps you in, as a wonked out guitar and drum groove cuts in straight away, complete with a fuzzed up synth bass line to up its urgency. More synthed out sounds and effect drenched guitars saunter around these three key instruments, never disrupting the main melodic focus, subtly enhancing this ever building sense of intensity. This soon descends into this purely euphoric closing section, driven by uplifting yet chunky guitar chugs and a splash heavy drum beat that could well be one of the most uplifting beat downs you’ll hear this year.

The rest of this EP follows suit, with each track packed to the rafters with ideas and dynamic shifts to keep you on your toes. Compositionally speaking, there is very much this idea of starting in one place and ending up on a completely different planet by the end. But due to this very logical sense of songwriting, it never feels too indulgent and the band move ideas with style and grace. But of course, there’s plenty of madness on it. ‘Thayhil‘ is a definite highlight as it jumps from balls out shredding to this mega cosmic jazz meets shoegaze section before it goes into this descending, chaotic rocked out ending complete with wah-wah pedals and everything!

It has to be said that the production is super sharp and really helps bring some of the more instant riffs to the forefront whilst also bringing out the tightness of the playing, especially in drummer Sion who impressively flickers between jazz-like fills to super tight tech-metal beats in the blink of an eye. As mentioned previously, it’s the little touches that really makes this record blossom and I love tracks like ‘FDP‘ which incorporate vocals as an extra layer of snarl to the already frantic wall of riffs and soaring, delay-heavy noodling.

The Hawk Is Out‘ is a very promising debut indeed. What strikes me the most about it is how much confidence it carries and Crashtactics take no prisoners in presenting a record that is overflowing with grandiose thoughts and feelings. I don’t think you necessarily have to know its creators to know that this is a record made by nerds for nerds and I mean that in the most complimentary way; this is the best kind of organised chaos and you Math heads are gonna love it!

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