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Hark - Machinations album review

Welsh riff-wielders pack some progression into their punch

The UK underground lost something special with the demise of sludge riffers Taint, but the emergence of Hark, frontman Jimbob Isaac’s next evolutionary step, provided hope. 2014’s Crystalline showcased a turn towards hard rock, while retaining Jimbob’s love of granite-hard riffing.

Machinations expands upon this, bringing underground musical sensibilities into contact with arena-sized ambitions, opener Fortune Favours The Insane melding a wild, classically tinged dual guitar attack with Jimbob’s belligerent vocals and solid grooves. There’s a progressive element, too, Nine Fates opening like something off Crack The Skye: an influence prevalent in the widdly leads and fluctuating riff patterns. Machinations conveys a sense of restlessness, an anxiety to perform multiple tasks that makes it hard to engage with. When they settle into a groove and let it develop organically, as on Transmutation’s provocatively arrogant stomp, Hark’s charisma shines through, but those moments are often lost amidst a maelstrom of styles with little narrative thread to tie them all together.