HIBAKUSHA – Hibakusha (2004)
Way back in 2004 we were selling this album in our stores on consignment. One of my co-workers said, “You have to buy this. These guys are incredible. They’re like a local Rush.” Intrigued, I played the album and put it aside for myself to buy later.
For reasons unknown (probably too much music to buy and not enough money to buy it with) I didn’t buy the first and only release by Hibakusha. It is only now, in 2013 that I have finally acquired this album. Uncle Meat had come over to do our recent video, and he reminded me how great this album is.
This truly is a great, world-class album. You can hear the Rush influences in the lead vocals, the complex rhythms and drum patterns, and the impeccable musicianship. You can tell Hibakusha had listened to their fair share of the Holy Trinity in their formative years, particularly the later groove-oriented Rush circa Counterparts. This exists simultaneously with a modern edge; a drony cloud of simple melodic elements that grounds the whole thing. It shines that a new car, one you can’t wait to drive over and over….
Uncle Meat pointed out that there aren’t any real guitar solos until the final track! And it’s a explosive solo at that. The role of the lead guitar here seems not to solo, but to shower down melodic hooks. “The Moped Song” is a great example of this. It is a mid-tempo melodic tune with a repeating guitar hook where the solo would go.
Elsewhere, “Is It Concern?” quiets things down, until the chorus explodes with impassioned vocals. “Televangeline” is a massive, rhythmic machine barreling forward unstoppable. The album is loaded with great songs, great playing, terrific vocals, and memorable melodic lines. Drums crash, fleeting fingers ride the groove from fret to fret…there isn’t a dull moment on this album.
“Masquerade” might be the best summation of the Hibakusha sound in one song. It begins deceptively gently, before turning into in a light bass-driven groove. Then out of nowhere comes a colossal stuttering riff straight from the Burke Shelley of Budgie school of thought. The wailing Geddy vocals seal the deal.
My only beef about Hibakusha is the dreadful cover art. It just screamed “indy” and failed to stand out. There is absolutely no way I would have picked this album up off the shelves just by seeing its cover. The cover does nothing to indicate what’s inside.
Hibakusha were Paul MacLeod (formerly of Skydiggers) on vocals and guitar, Cory Barnes (guitar and vocals), Mark McIntyre (bass) and Gord Stevenson (drums). Even though I was almost a decade late, I’m glad I finally picked up this disc. It had been a long time since I last heard it, and I am treating it as a happy reunion.
Great album. Don’t hesitate to look for it online, it is easy to find.