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Hydra Vein > After the Dream > Reviews > bayern
Hydra Vein - After the Dream

…Comes a Pleasant, Genteel Albeit Contrived Awakening - 88%

bayern, June 23rd, 2022

Hm, everyone talks about the head of the hydra… and I haven't heard anyone talk about its veins. But those also must be important; otherwise, we won’t have two whole bands with that name. Both English, the other one a firm NWOBHM representative, disappeared after a solitary demo in 1982… the one under scrutiny here rolling proudly for about four years. Another swift vanishing act, in other words, but the one here left two full-lengths in its trail.

Unlike quite a few of the guys’ compatriots (later-period Onslaught, Slammer, Xentrix) who looked for inspiration on the other side of the Atlantic, our hydras here glanced the other way, and found a well of ideas in the good old Germany. The first instalment was a raucous intense, not perfectly polished affair, think Destruction meets Kreator, both acts’ early days, the guys moshing with little restraint, trying their best to overcome the buzzy abrasive production.

Said production remains in circulation on the album reviewed here, but this is a sizeable upgrade in musical proficiency, the band elevating their delivery towards more complex ways of execution, bravely touching Destruction’s masterful “Release from Agony” at times. There’s quite a bit of hustle’n bustle to be acknowledged on the opening duo "7-USC" and "Pro Patria", both dexterous eventful shredders which relative lack of aggression is handsomely compensated by "Born Through Ignorance", a near-straight-forward basher that stirs moshpits all around with nonchalant ease. A probable leftover from the debut this cut, its seismic immediacy gets decidedly overwritten by "Passed Present No Future", a multifarious near-progressive roller-coaster, the guys still thrashing virulently on a few occasions. This complex formula can also produce lofty results within a short time frame like "Turning Point" shows only too well, a briefer but equally intriguing time and tempo-shifter with echoes of Coroner even; the title-track bowing to Destruction’s mentioned opus with a sweep of speedy intricate crescendos, the most pleasant surprise on that one being the brilliant atmospheric keyboard-driven epitaph, a really nice albeit utterly unheralded touch.

The vocalist begs to differ from the frontmen of those acts, choosing a not very obtrusive but effective semi-declamatory stance, brooding in the background at times without taking central stage anywhere. A really fine swansong this album, standing proud next to other strong retro thrash showings from the Isles from the same year like Onslaught’s “In Search of Sanity”, Xentrix’s “Shattered Existence”, Sabbat’s “Dreamweaver”… another proof that English thrash was ready to make up with quality for the lack of a very prolific scene. The sad thing is that after the dream came… nothing for our heroes here; literally. They split up very shortly after this slab’s release, again following on the steps of several of their compatriots. The vocalist Mike Keen (R.I.P.) auditioned to replace Martin Walkyier in Sabbat for the pagans’ third instalment, but lost to Ritchie Desmond from the obscure thrashers Desmatron.

The bass player and founder Damon Maddison has resurfaced recently with the Dutch heavy metal formation Silvaticus, and has also reformed his first love alongside his old comrade Danny Ranger (guitars). The Silvaticus singer James Manley-Bird has been seen circling around, so it seems like his clean passionate croon may as well grace something rowdier and decidedly more aggressive… cause the hydra can only grow back its heads… sorry, veins when exposed to vicious virulent retro thrash tunes.