Hyro The Hero – ‘Flagged Channel’ (Album Review)
First things first: Hyro The Hero is about to drop one of the best – and most explosive – albums of the year.
As anyone with the slightest degree of political awareness knows, our world and culture has been thrown into disarray in recent times. Madmen trade insults, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war, before shaking hands and smiling – and division is everywhere. After a prolonged absence from the music world, Hyro The Hero has returned to dive straight into the chaos and come out with some of the finest rap-metal in existence.
While some are quick to shoot down any kind of crossover between rap and heavier music, citing the fact that it took over the mainstream at a time still considered deeply unfashionable today, it is a fact that rap and hip-hop are lyrically the most relevant styles of music out there right now. Rock and metal bands rarely speak out on political issues, even as their riffs and grooves capture and convey extreme frustration and rage. Rap and hip-hop, however, are largely defined by their ear-to-the-ground presence in the present moment.
Hyro The Hero has his finger on our culture’s pulse, and Flagged Channel is bursting with pointed rhymes and face-breaking tracks. Stylistically, Hyro and his band head for the barricades backed up by the spirits of Rage Against The Machine, Path Of Totality-era Korn, on occasion Linkin Park, and even Marilyn Manson. Vocal comparisons to Zack de la Rocha are inevitable and sometimes accurate, but Hyro The Hero still has a recognisable style of his own.
This guy wears his influences on his sleeve – but they are legendary, and in combination you’re left with something unique. Hyro The Hero has always been accepted and respected by the alt-metal community – and the presence of Korn guitarist Munky on brutally crushing centrepiece Devil In Disguise proves it. That track also happens to include some Devin Townsend-style choir swells, making it impossible not to sing along.
Since Rage Against The Machine are one of my favourite bands, I really have no problem with others getting so close to their style as long as they pull it off properly and really fucking mean it. Hyro The Hero and his band obviously do – so even when parts of We Ain’t Afraid and final track Let The Snake Show veer almost plagiaristically close to the staccato intro to Rage’s Know Your Enemy, I still enjoyed it without grumbling. Elsewhere, classic Rage-style guitar parts get the extended-range and super-drop-tuning treatment – the intro to Killas Are Comin’ being a case in point. If Rage reformed with Zack, and took some stylistic cues from the current crop of djent bands, they’d likely come out with something similar.
Overall, at its best Flagged Channel manages to be innovative, catchy, exciting, and above all motivating. As Hyro The Hero repeatedly states, his intention is not merely to entertain, but to get people up, out, and taking action. If this album doesn’t have that effect on you, drink some Red Bull and listen to it again.
LTK RATING: 94% (Essential Listening!)
Pre-order Flagged Channel (out June 29) on iTunes.
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