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The HIRS Collective - We're Still Here (Album Review)

Tuesday, 28 March 2023 Written by Jack Terry

Photo: Chris Suspect

The HIRS Collective has never been a group to shy away from pushing the limits of extreme music, either in sound or scope. Whether they’re putting out a collection of 100 songs at a time, or collaborating with pioneers, their brand of grindcore has always been about inclusivity and equality. 

On their new album ‘We’re Still Here’, they’ve opted for the strength in numbers approach and enlisted more than 30 artists to lend their voices and venom. That list includes members of My Chemical Romance, Circa Survive, Anti-Flag, Thursday, La Dispute, Melt-Banana, Gouge Away, Nø Man, Screaming Females, and GHÖSH…the list goes on and on.

The eponymous lead single, an explosion of jagged riffs and furious blast beats, kicks things off in hyperdrive before Garbage's Shirley Manson floats into the fray.

N.O. S.I.R. features The Locust’s Justin Pearson in fine, ferocious fettle, while Waste Not Want Not brings together Soul Glo and Escuela Grind, two of the most exciting young bands in heavy music, for a shotgun blast of righteous fury.

Through its first nine tracks, ‘We’re Still Here’ is already blood-shakingly heavy, but the one-two punch of You Are Not Alone and Apoptosis and Proliferation tops it all. The former opens as a gorgeous, defiant spoken word performance from poet Lora Mathis before collapsing in on itself like a dying star courtesy of sludge-metal heavyweights The Body, while the latter allows Full Of Hell to rip through their trademark brutality alongside Converge bassist Nate Newton. These tracks leave you dizzy and queasy from what just happened. They rule.

Bringing Light And Replenishments caps the album with a spectacular amalgamation of heft and beauty, courtesy of Sunrot and The Punk Cellist. Once again, The HIRS Collective have found a way of combining the most disparate genres and making them work exquisitely together in one final, oddly hopeful number.

All told, ‘We’re Still Here’ is an urgent and provocative masterclass. Deserving to be thought of as highly as other genre staples such as Full Of Hell’s ‘Trumpeting Ecstasy’ and Nails’ ‘Unsilent Death’, this is simply unmissable. Where they go and what they do next is anyone's guess, but you can bet it's going to be special.


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