Although I discovered Himsa a year before they disbanded due to my impeccable timing, I was at least able to bear witness to their epic final work and crowning achievement; Summon in Thunder.
I remember watching Headbanger’s Ball on MTV, which is a hilarious thing to say nowadays, and stumbling across Himsa‘s video for “Big Timber”. In this animated music video, the band members were depicted as yeti puppets and were being picked off one-by-one by some sort of malevolent tree entity. Although I did indeed find the music video entertaining, it was the music itself that really enthralled me.
Now I have never been the biggest fan of the more melodic brand of metalcore, but there are always exceptions. Himsa was definitely one of those exceptions. The band’s ties to the hardcore scene helped their music maintain a sense of grit and violence. Their flirtations with melodic death metal, which was not unheard of in metalcore at the time, was more expressive and triumphant than a lot of their predecessors. Summon in Thunder presented a perfect middle ground between these two sides of the modern metalcore aisle, resulting in 11 heavy-hitting, memorable tunes.
Other than the aforementioned “Big Timber”, the album is filled to the brim with many neck-snapping, bruising, and earworm moments. The second track, “Haunter”, tramples the listener with a barrage of bitter, hardcore-tinged riffs, mosh-worthy breakdowns and blood-pumping rhythms. Frontman John Pettibone’s vocals here, and the entire album really, are fierce, bestial, and works with the music to deliver the most painful aural beating possible. Other cuts on the record, such as “Unleash Carnage”, follow a similar approach; churning out as many flesh-ripping metallic guitar riffs as possible until the listener is soaked in blood.
The opening track, “Reinventing the Noose”, shows the band really wearing their melodeath influences on their sleeves. Other than the myriad of galloping, metallic blitzes, the song unleashes a staggering amount of soaring, melodic riffs and solos that would make a lot of the Swedish melodeath outfits that influenced these types of sounds blush. The nearly seven-minute “Skinwalkers” also features a healthy dose of powerful melodicism that is interwoven with the song’s gloomy, yet pulverizing marches and frenetic, riff-happy rampages.
10 years later, Summon in Thunder remains to be Himsa‘s magnum opus and one of the best “metalcore” records of that era. Breakdowns, face-melting solos, bountiful riffs, what’s not to love? I could continue to rave about this album, but I’ll let it speak for itself.