Album: State of Shock
Genre: Heavy/power/speed metal
Label: Heavy Forces Records
Hitten are a more recent heavy metal band from Murcia and State of Shock is their second full-length album coming out just a couple years after their first. I had known about Hitten for a while, but had never bothered to listen to anything by them until a respected friend mentioned how much he enjoyed this particular release and so I went to pick it up. It took less than a minute into the album before I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after hearing the insane intro. Sometimes intros can be deceiving though, so I suspended any judgement until I had listened to the whole thing all the way through.
Hitten bill themselves as heavy metal, and whilst that’s true in a sense, I think it fails to describe them completely accurately. They are at least a speed metal band, but there’s plenty of power metal in here as well. And by power metal, I mean actual power metal, not the synth-driven flower metal made for overweight Renaissance Fair attendees. Just measuring the band’s sound in terms of density alone, this album surpasses a lot of eighties power metal bands like Crimson Glory and Queensrÿche. In terms of speed, it’s right up there with Destructor and Savage Grace. In fact, maybe the best way to describe their sound is the combination of the clean and melodic side of Crimson Glory with the speed and virtuosity of Savage Grace. The lead playing in particular is quite impressive. It’s a good bit flashy too, but not lacking in creativity in the slightest. The lead player has a great feel for when to ramp up his playing and take centre stage, and also when to lay low and let the others carry the song.
What stood out to me the most was how utterly big the final sound is. They get this with layers; lots and lots of layers. You have a really solid and booming rhythm section that pounds away steadily, supporting two guitars that either double up on riffs or play rhythm and lead side by side. But that’s just the beginning, because when the choruses come in, it’s likely that the whole band will chime in on vocals. And for those choruses that aren’t comprised of those epic harmonies, fear not – they just scream them out. Not sure which type I like better, to be honest, especially since they execute them both so well here. So what you end up with is this massive and relentless cacophony of galloping riffs and melodic fills delivered on a kick drum the size of Nebraska.
This intensity is pretty consistent on the most of the album, and each song brings something a little different. But near the end of the second half, it’s a different story. The songs are still good and the melodies are every bit as catchy, but everything tones down quite a bit starting with “Liar” and the songs take on a much lighter character. There are some that in addition to being a bit mellower, have a slight poppy feel to them. Again, nothing wrong with this, but the shift in tone is quite salient. In fact, I might go a step further and say that the shift in tone is also quite welcome. The reason I say this is that this thing clocks in at nearly fifty minutes, which is long for most heavy metal albums. As such, I don’t know how much I would like it if the album were just one continuous ear-blasting juggernaut like the first half is.
The album closes with an utterly fantastic highlight that is a perfect melding of their heavy sound with their acute sense of melody. In terms of what an album closer is supposed to do, this one just nails it on all counts. It brings all their best ideas back together into a single package and ends the album on a triumphant note, leaving you with a beautiful taste of what good metal should be.
Check ’em out here: https://hittenheavymetal.bandcamp.com/