ALBUM REVIEW: Hacktivist – Outside The Box

We’ve all seen them, from Reading and Leeds mainstage openers, to Download Festival tent packers, or even headlining the party night at Tech Fest. Hacktivist are a band who’ve pretty much ticked everything off their bucket list, and that’s even before a full length debut has appeared. The Milton Keynes quintet have been riding on one EP since 2012, but while they’ve carefully taken their time with executing their debut album, has it all come a bit late, or is this the debut that looked so promising from that first EP?

If you’ve seen a Hacktivist live set, you’ll know just how formidable they are at really getting the party started. Using their melting pot of various genres, they’re almost part of this movement that won’t allow nu-metal to die but at the same time redefine a niche of music that people like to label as a guilty pleasure. Outside The Box does exactly what it says on the tin. They’re a band purposefully trying concoct a sound that is intended to alienate and make people feel uncomfortable, that may sound negative, but it’s a way of making their mark firmly on the metal scene.

Where people might get lost with this album, is with the lyrical content. The grime element is something that is always self-promoting, blowing your own trumpet as you like. This style of song-writing is always about bigging yourself up, which is something that might come across as a bit self-indulgent. From the “Live shows getting five K’s in Kerrang!” to the “Now we got the whole scene shook” in Hate, you start to feel that this band only like to talk about themselves. While political unrest, social disorder and discrimination also shines through with this record, the band are clearly celebrating just how much they’ve achieved already into the career, and while we applaud their success, we’re not sure if the metal community will be so easy on them.

Jay Hurley‘s rapping spits furious venom and comes at you at a bazillion miles per hour, but this is counter-attacked by the more unclean approach Ben Marvin has taken. The two have found a balance with their vocals, giving this band edge and identity. In the revamped version of Deceive and Defy Ben showcases his ability to move away from grime vocals, for a more guttural scream. The addition of guest vocalist Jamie Graham (Heart Of A Coward) adds some more testies to this already ballsy track. The standout moment for sure, comes with a little help of friend and tour pal, Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari, who lends his vocals to the Shikari-esque rager that is Taken – the bombastic nature would render anyone’s ear drums moot.

It’s a real rollercoaster of an album. The moments that are great are really great, but there are moments where you feel the band have entered a vortex making some part of the album feel a little bit void. While this might not live up to the expectation that everyone had built up in their head, this is still only their debut album and even though there are some faults, these small growing pains will soon subside as there is plenty of moments on here for this band to reach the potential they showed so early on in their career.


For Fans of: Enter Shikari, Meshuggah, Korn

Standout tracks: Taken

Written by: Laura Herbert

Laura Herbert
Metal and tea lover. Music Journalism student. Pug obsessed. You’ll find me with a bottle of wine.