Heart Of A Coward – “The Disconnect” (Arising Empire)
Battle Helm Rating
Whilst I wouldn’t say that I’m all that knowledgeable about HOAC, that may be well timed in this instance given they have just changed singers from the established roar of Jamie Graham, who left for family reasons, to the rawer and somewhat more soulful Kaan Tasan, who has already drawn comparisons to the late Chester Bennington from many a fan. Still, it was hardly a spontaneous choice given Tasan was auditioned over 6 months before a formal offer was extended! As a relative newcomer, this 3rd album impresses through its sheer heaviness, as well as a stand out performance from Tasan, which is hardly surprising given the big boots he’s having to fill. Formed a decade ago, HOAC have steadily risen to support the likes of Machine Head and SikTh, as well as playing well known festivals like Download and With Full Force. That’s hardly a surprise given the heady mix of aggression built for the pit, but moreover, the djent fuelled metal core being put out – albeit with a classy mix of catchy hooks and ballsy, chundering grooves – more than enough to re-energise any festival goer rain soaked to the skin! Backed by the heavy backbone of bassist Vishal Khetia and Christopher Mansbridge’s hard hitting drums, the 10 tracks on “The Disconnect” reflect anything that the title suggests, but instead, probably HOAC’s most tight performance to date, sensibly rallying around Tasan to give him a near flawless platform to show his measure. From the rip roaring ‘Senseless’ with its thick, slow grooves contrasting with faster chugging riffola and then further with dark, chiming ambience, the twin guitar work of Carl Ayers and Steve Haycock are what sets this band ahead of the pack, constantly engineering new catchiness along with a nervous intensity to wake you up and then keep you alive – for the duration! It’s no more clearer than on ‘Suffocation’, with its massive djent fluctuations and alternating dirty / clean fret board work that propels the song excellently as Tasan screams his throat out, but equally manages to elicit plenty of emotion through his clean singing. And this may be where he has an edge over Graham in openly displaying his heart and moreover, his inner soul like on closer ‘Isolation’, where his soulful grace along with subtle exotic melodies beautifully contrast the catchy djent riffs and Mansbridge’s percussive precision – excellent work by the way chap! Indeed, HOAC may have averted a big bullet here, but that which has not killed them may have only made them stronger…..