Album Review: HIDDEN INTENT - Dead End Destiny

Artist: Hidden Intent

Album: Dead End Destiny

Genre: Thrash Metal

Review by Brady Irwin

Thrash metal has, like a gelatinous cube in a fantasy tabletop RPG, been subsumed into a gumbo soup of subgenres and influences, all interacting in interesting and dynamic ways. Blackened thrash, progressive thrash, death-thrash, etc. With the downturn of the somewhat derivative-but-fun revivalist wave of the aughts/early 2010s, the barbarian entity of purebred thrash feels to have suffered some bad death-saving throws, drawn and quartered by hungry goblins seeking to get a piece to add to their own flavour.

Well, mostly. One place where archetypal thrash continues to live on, is right here in Australia. And nothing iterates that fact more than the latest album by riff-chonkers Hidden Intent.

Look, normally I’m straight into the musical side of things with album reviews, but for Dead End Destiny, there is no getting past that fantastic, satirical pastiche of Australiana on the front cover. Evoking King Parrot and Dead Kelly, it equally sets the tone yet has nothing to do with the album. Here’s what I mean.

Take opener ‘A Place of Horror’. It’s a pallette that I would argue has a localised gallop, bass clack, perhaps a salt-and-pepper dash of Mindsnare-esque hardcore influence, and a clear Australian twang to the vocals. But there is something very classically American, and not in a bad way, about both the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles call-response gang shouts, the melding of groove, widdly guitar histrionics and spider-fingered fret-bouncing riffs.

It’s thrash, tried and true. No whimsical ambient interludes, no extended breaks into long-winded ‘cavernous’ (if I hear that descriptor again, I’ll -) reverb-drenched passages. No 20-minute epics. Though those are valid, it’s nice to just get palatable *songs*.

‘Breaking Point’ backs this up squarely and succinctly. There’s no need for the usual reviewer wax-lyrical. It’s exactly what you’d expect. The mid-song breakneck flurry into your tried-and-true highly melodic soloing settles back into an extended breakdown. Not even the clean interlude towards the end is a surprise. And that’s fine.

With the process of globalisation, ease of access to education and music production technology, it’s clear that the melting pot of disparate subgenres in the heavy music scene is destined only to coagulate more and more. Honestly, going into this with the wrong expectation may lead it to feel a bit outdated.

What you will cop, however, is a brick wall of dependable thrash, like on the title track. Slamming into you like the guy in the mosh who’s so plastered and beer-drenched that you’d better wait a bit after the gig not get done by the RBT secondhand (sorry in advance, hic), ‘Dead End Destiny, goes straight for the throat, ripping out those wonderful tremolos that so inspired the original greats. An equally lyrically-complex introspection on such a lifestyle, there’s barely a moment to really navel-gaze on the complexities of partying before a procession of trucks slam you, hard with palm-muted fury, barks, gang chants and d-beat drumming.

For a pretentious pseudo-intellectual like the average metalhead, especially those damn reviewers, maybe that’s not enough. However, once again, keeping expectations in check here will provide you a fun time. And don’t mistake the forgoing of meandering with a lack of technical skill. These guys are on fire, and while that truly shows in the live setting, it’s undeniable on disc, too. ‘Forgotten Fate’ is thus.

Like watching a skilled cavalier in action, i.e. a wall of metal rising atop a galloping horse with such skill, it’s easy to forget how much goes into producing such effortlessly tight riffs and wailing, melodic soloing. It’s also super refreshing just to hear thrash bands anchoring heavily on The Riff, as opposed to reliance on lead flourishes to do the song-writing legwork.

Remember the Parrot/Kelly reference? Well, here it is. ‘Get A Dog Up Ya’ is the most Australian song title in history, now and forevermore. Blistering through two minutes as though it were nothing, it’s a manic, flat-stick, tinnie-cracking thumbs-down to the gronks, grubs, tossers and horrible bosses. With a hilarious Fat Pizza style ‘monologue’ about goon of fortune and a refrain of ‘We want a beer/drink all fucking day’, it’s a breakneck belter and something to day drink to on a public holiday between the 80th annexation of the speakers by your drunk Boomer relative for more Barnes.

Put it on the Bluetooth speaker while you’re floating on the inflatable dinghy, tin on belly, pre-emptively basking in the pre-emptive, palm-muted catharsis that’ll hopefully make the return to cubicle-farm drudgery a little more bearable.

Speaking of cubicle farm, ‘We Are The End of Us’ plays directly into that disaffected punk-influenced thrash metal trope. The careful balance of despondent misanthropy, pre-apocalyptic forecasting but wrapped into a bouncing, swirling package. You know the theme, it’s timeless. Some cleaner, more pensive arpeggios are about as close as we get to prog territory here, but to go further with that comparison is like comparing ‘Images and Words’ to ‘Coma of Souls’.

Sandwiching the dourness of your typical we’re-screwed thrash number is a thrashing cover of The Chat’s ‘Pub Feed’. There’s nothing any less Australian about this one. Sure it’s copped a thrash dressing, but it’s given the Frenzal Rhomb treatment of our distinctly nasal continental accent and just as home at the RSL as The Bendigo. The outro Slayer intro over pub noise is a beautiful.

And finally, what archetypal thrash album is complete without the mournful, slow-burn introduction of the final track? Building slowly from subdued wails into a thick riff-wall and that sweet gallop, the sharp clack of the bass and swing of the drums gives a sudden two-step swing to the closing track. It ends exactly as expected, the slow fadeout. Done.

If anything is consistent and dependable, it’s two things: One, the long-winded circuit taken by yours truly to get to the point in written and verbal form and two, the stoic and classic feel of this album. It’s thrash. It’s Aussie as hell. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s over in 29 minutes. If you want multi-disc space-rock-thrash epics, look elsewhere. You want some unadulterated thrash fun? Grab a pint and stretch those legs, let’s get moshing.

Dead End Destiny is out now! Order your copy here:

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