Metalcore act Lycanthrope have been active within the Australian metal scene since 2014, and in the couple of years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, they’d built upon a massive sound that made them seem absolutely unbeatable.

Following a couple of years away, their 2023 EP ‘Hydra’ captures the six piece band in a typically aggressive mood, but a couple of its tracks are potentially heavier than ever. Setting the mood brilliantly, the opening track ‘Built On Glass’ opens with a deep guitar chug, thrown out at thrash speed and made to sound even heavier via a muddy down-tuning. Given a few bars to adjust it sounds brilliant, and the heavy pneumatics of Fear Factory’s ‘Demanufacture’ are brought screaming into the twenty first century courtesy of a great, sharp edged riff, relentless drums and, eventually, a chorus where clean vocals share an unexpected melody. That’d be enough to make this a genuine attention grabber, but the combination of near industrial riffery elsewhere combined with a really deep and intense lead vocal lift it to the realms of instant classic, stylistically speaking.

‘The Human Virus’ clings on to the same recognisable chug, but applies it to a slightly broader riff. This results in a number where the industrial edge collides with the groove metal of ‘Ashes of The Wake’ era Lamb of God, and a couple hardcore breakdowns carrying faint echoes of early Machine Head. Despite a more melodic verse, less of an attempt has been made to captilise on a melodic chorus. Instead, metal fans will get some huge enjoyment from a layered sound where the intense pneumatics are underscored by tones closer to classic thrash, and lyrics that encourage the singing of protest songs “until throats are bleeding” escalate the feelings of intensity within the core of the track. It doesn’t do anything strikingly original, but it doesn’t need to; in terms of a riff/anger combination, it’s an instant knockout.

Branching out with a bigger melody from a soaring guitar and a clean vocal on the chorus, ‘Move Mountains’ is easily the EP’s most accessible track, but with a sound that mixes bits of Fear Factory with Soilwork, it’s far from easy going. Nevertheless, the band’s commitment to their crossover sound and the excellent production values speak for themselves, and by the time the tuneful hook appears for the final time and leads into one of the release’s biggest hardcore riffs, you might just be convinced this band is unstoppable. Bringing even more melody to the table, ‘Senses Betrayed’ ventures deep into a classic metalcore sound with twin lead riffs and chorus vocals that aren’t a million miles away from early Trivium. Also, a more distinctive element comes through via some really tight drumming where the hardcore elements are interspersed with more complex flourishes to create something almost drawing from the djent bands of yesteryear. Whichever way you approach it, this track – and, indeed, the whole EP – is superb.

This is brutal and brilliantly heavy, but like Killswitch Engage, the best tracks have a melodic core that’s just as impressive. For those who spent the 90s devouring albums by Fear Factory and g//z/r, found themselves excited by Killswitch in the 00s, and latterly, found a musical love for the slightly more djent influenced works of In Hearts Wake and the more melodic end of Our Hollow, Our Home’s output, this release will certainly bring some massive riff-based thrills.

May 2023