Hartsbane is a new band in the metal arena…and they are one to watch. Their debut EP, As Summer Dies, shows the band is energetic, heavy and yet, contains a certain “radio-friendliness” that permeates their sound. Their music is very accessible, yet it retains more than enough elements of heavy metal to please metalheads and non-metalheads.
Hartsbane employs a time-tested formula: chugging guitars and relatable lyrics. They never take it to a level my high school band teacher would have denoted as “louder than lovely”. While the band is certainly heavy, there isn’t any screaming or growling. They ride the delicate line between heaviness and something that could arguably be called a radio-friendly sound…and they do it well. Their music doesn’t suffer from this. Lev Kerzher’s vocals match the style perfectly, ranging from throaty verses to notes that soar high above the rest of the band.
It’s worth discussing how the album was recorded. According to the band’s website, the EP was “recorded live in front of an audience, in true DIY fashion”. You can hear the audience on some tracks, and you can hear Lev interacting with them. Normally, I don’t enjoy live recordings. However, this one was done exceptionally well. The quality of the music is not sacrificed. With all of this in mind, I would argue the “live” aspect of the EP enhances it, as a piece of art. There’s another layer added to the music when Lev speaks to the crowd and they shout back at him. There’s a feeling of community, just like when you’re at a concert.
Songs Worth Investigating
“Tame” is definitely a harder edged “get-the-crowd-fired-up” tune. Its energetic, exciting and fits snuggly within parameters of radio-friendly modern metal. “As Summer Dies” was my favorite. It’s still lathered with heavy instruments, but the lyrics are more central. On the verses, the guitars back off and allow Lev to do his thing.
…And to Conclude
As Summer Dies was ten years in the making, and it was worth the wait. It is a very solid first release. In the future it will be interesting to see how the band explores their sound and fills it out more. For example, the closing track, “Tomorrow’s Rain” is an acoustic ballad. Will they expand on this element and incorporate more “slower songs” or will they stick to the faster, more energetic tunes? Either way, the band is will produce quality music, if As Summer Dies is any indication.
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