‘Hyena’ album review
artist: Bare The Mark
release date: June 4, 2021
star rating: three out of five
review by Levi Yager
Bare The Mark has unleashed a beast – Hyena is on the prowl. A potent concentration of voracious rage and callous despair, this EP goes in for the kill. It’s clear that the band means business as they deliver unapologetically heavy songs with enough compositional creativity to keep the listener engaged.
“I Seek A Darkness,” the opening track, previews Bare The Mark’s best qualities. Equally ominous and vicious, this song puts it all on the table and would please any metalhead. Fresh lead guitar work and a few smart changes at key points make it a standout track, and it showcases some impressive vocal capabilities, too.
“The Lesser Self” follows. It pushes the needle further into heavy territory and keeps with the record’s established, macabre tone. This one doesn’t flex the band’s dynamic artistry as much as other tracks, but it’s not bad.
Hyena really picks up in the middle; the third and fourth tracks more than pull their weight. True to its name, “Apex Predator” is just fucking ruthless. A prime example of great songwriting in all respects, there’s so much going on here. It’s a total rush and also has some of the best drumming on the EP. “Black Lamb” answers with captivating, contrasting screams (both highs and lows of different timbre) and noteworthy guitar playing. This song drowns in a deep darkness with a drawn-out approach similar to “The Lesser Self” – but with more nuance. It has a cool, minimalistic segment near its conclusion that leads perfectly into a savage breakdown and outro.
“Oppressor” is a fine closer, if a bit predictable. I feel like it could’ve packed a bigger punch, but it just didn’t do much that wasn’t already done earlier on the EP. Regardless, we’re still left with effective breakdowns, feral growls, solid drums and inventive guitar parts.
I like this record a lot. It’s a hefty slice of meaty, metal goodness that doesn’t disappoint. Sure, its overall sound is pretty straightforward, but Hyena is never outright boring. A specific critique I should mention, though, is that the mix is a tad muddy at times. This doesn’t affect the listening experience too significantly, but it was noticeable to me at the very least. All things considered, Hyena has my recommendation. I’d say that Bare The Mark is definitely a band to watch for; I’m confident they’ll be making big waves in the near future.