Review: HARD LOOK - Infinite Rebirth

Zachary Tyler Van Dyke
Zachary Tyler Van Dyke   Follow

Band: HARD LOOK (opens new window)

Album: Infinite Rebirth

Genre: Industrial Deathcore

Record Label: Independent

Release Date: June 14, 2021

Album length: 34 Minutes

Track list:

  1. Death
  2. Hell
  3. Release
  4. Infinite Rebirth
  5. Loss
  6. Workers of Iniquity
  7. The Crucifixion
  8. Race Against Time
  9. Antivenom
  10. In Times of Grace

​ Independent music project, HARD LOOK, is gearing up to release their second full-length album, Infinite Rebirth on the 14th of June. This project sees HARD LOOK expand on their sound and add in some new elements that make for a more dynamic listening experience. Bringing in some electronic styling and near-spoken word deliveries gives this album an interesting range. While some criticisms could be leveled, it’s important to remember this is being done by one largely self-taught person. It is an impressive feat to have put together an entire album, and honestly, the result is pretty on-point with similar artists who are not independent. Let’s examine this at a track-by-track level.

Death: Opening up the album is “Death,” a synth-based intro-track that right away sets the tone as to what you can expect. The synth is a welcome touch, and the way HL has incorporated this into the rest of the album is fascinating. Adding in some down-tuned dialogue–a reading of Revelation 6:8 and Kurt Russel yelling, “Hell’s coming with me!” from the movie, Tombstone, bleeds immediately into the full instrumentation. It’s effective in opening up the album and putting on display the blend of rock and electronic elements found throughout.

Hell: Something worth noting immediately is the vocal range. Good grief, this song really highlights the ability to have deep growls, high fry screams, and solid mids. The ability to flex between them is on display throughout this track. The tremolo fretwork is matched by the drum's consistent double-pedal work. Thematically, the lyrics of this track, appropriately, describe the absolute despair of hell. “Here, there’s only pain… Fear, no end is near.” It’s great to see that there were no punches pulled with the bleakness of their description.

Release: Here is an example of the electronic elements blending in with the metal in a way that, personally, hits and misses. The track itself has a bit of a stomp-rock element to it in the percussion of the verses. Unfortunately, I’m not sure this fits too much with what the guitars are doing. I don’t dislike either of the instrument’s delivery, I just don’t think they complement one another too well. Now, that said, the synth portion between verses is absolutely stellar. I think it gives the song an interesting break that, had it perhaps been explored a little more, or utilized as more than just a break, could have really lifted the track higher. Lyrically, I love that they boldly point to Jesus’ ability to provide release and freedom from addiction and self-harm. Excellently done in that regard.

Infinite Rebirth: The title track is one of the best on this album. For sure, the variation in the music, vocal delivery, and overall dynamics of the track contributes to that. A lot is going on, but it all works so flawlessly together. The lyrics, guitar-shredding, and blast-beats: everything is functioning on all cylinders here, and it is fantastic. As an urgent call to the faith, the wonder of this song is in the lyrical depiction of being born again. Honestly, this song is just so good – it will definitely be on repeat.

Loss: This is an interesting track to have on this album. It’s an instrumental with spoken words in the background that are all centered on the wake of a loved one’s passing. It’s a very well-done track, but its placement in this track-list is interesting. It almost seems, in an album that has thus far been heavily focused on God, it just seems out of place. Again, sounds great and is very well done. That’s not in question.

Workers of Iniquity: Here, opening up the second half of the album, we run into an example of the electronic and spoken word elements working well. The song itself has a bit of an ’80s, “I Need a Hero” vibe to it in certain moments, which is pretty epic, honestly. And then, serving as the chorus, is the spoken delivery of the words, “Will they ever stop? Will they ever cease? How can they repeat?” It helps this track to stand out and truthfully works excellently well. This is another track that will be on repeat.

The Crucifixion: To be perfectly honest, this is a track that, again, feels hit or miss with its electronic elements. I’m not sure how well they work, until about 2 minutes in. It turns into an almost dance rhythm that works surprisingly well. Prior to that, and even after, it’s an almost horror-core element that, paired with the fry vocals, should work well, but just falls a little flat. As an exploration of Jesus’ death on the cross, the track's lyrics are compelling enough to look beyond the somewhat awkwardness of some of the track’s structure.

Race Against Time: This is an oddball of a track. It’s hard to tell if there’s too much going on, or not enough. What is probably the most impressive part is the vocal delivery of the verses. Almost rapped, while still screamed, it's super impressive. But, the structure of the track is just a little strange. It’s definitely not the worst and there are definitely moments where the vision of the track is obvious. But it feels a little unfocused and as if it just needed a little more clarity in the overall structure of the track. I dig the song, for sure, and won’t knock it. It’s enjoyable and easy to listen to, but if it were just a touch more organized, it would have been even better.

Antivenom: Arguably the heaviest track on the album, this is insane. There are so many tempo shifts and vocal changes – where Race Against Time felt a little unfocused in its attempts to do a lot, this track nails it. A lot is happening, and it never feels out of place or unfocused. I pick up some clear connections to some of Impending Doom’s work, such as The Serpent's Tongue. Honestly, this track is great. Looking at how the devil tries to get us to believe lies about who we are and tying it all back to the truth we can find in Jesus, this track holds nothing back in terms of how faithful Jesus is. This song rips!

In Times of Grace: Another instrumental track that feels like it falls naturally into the rest of the record, this song is bled into straight from the end of Antivenom. It serves almost as a respite to recover from the harshness of the rest of the album. It provides that wonderful balance and closure.

All in all, Infinite Rebirth from HARD LOOK is very well done. I had some nitpicks with certain things, such as the electronic elements not meshing too well in spots. But, I want to give HARD LOOK a lot of credit for their willingness to blend things and try something different. There were certainly times it was incredibly well done, a la Workers of Iniquity. HARD LOOK has put together some amazing tracks here, and given that this is all done by one guy, I am thoroughly excited for more to come through.

High Point: Infinite Rebirth or Antivenom

Low Point: Release

Favorite: Infinite Rebirth

Rating: 8/10

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