Look, we’re well aware that it’s a big, fat cliché, but here goes—you really have to listen to HAWXX, because a brief description doesn’t do them justice. Not because they’re some future-kind force in musical boundary-obliterating; not at all, in fact. If you’re familiar with the broad strokes of hard rock and metal and maybe a dash of punk on the sound, HAWXX’s sound will be very comprehensible to you. No, it’s more because those particular hard rock and metal scenes don’t tend to produce bands on the same progressive wavelength as this. HAWXX blatantly aren’t afraid of getting loud and putting their voices out there, and you can appreciate that when it’s so forward in this capacity.
The route is completely necessary for them to take. It can be a cutthroat world out there, in music or otherwise, and HAWXX cementing an identity of forward-thinking conscience and overt feminism presents a great starting point for them. Plus, there’s still that universality that big rock and metal songs like theirs tend to hit, albeit from a different slant. With members originating from England, Wales, Greece and Italy, it’s made abundantly clear how experiences of oppression, sexism and danger to women transcends the boundaries of nations. It’s even laid out plain on the opener Death Makes Sisters Of Us All, as a sense of unity shown towards the women unjustly brutalised and killed as a result of abuse of power.
Across Earth, Spit, Blood And Bones, HAWXX deliver their series of rallying cries with unshakable conviction. At no point does this feel like empty sloganeering, not when there’s such a gravity in Anna Papadimitriou’s vocals, and a weight in tone that’s fully embraced. Particularly on the likes of Trust Your Rage and Filth—the blasts of intent that call for women and other marginalised people to break out of the established systems that hold them back and take ownership of their personhood—these are songs with considerable weight to them. It’s why ‘hard rock’ as a tag, while nominally accurate, doesn’t really fit HAWXX. In a style whose reputation has become poisoned by algorithmically-generated mush with little true purpose behind it, Earth, Spit, Blood And Bones is the antidote to that.
Granted, there’s still a couple of things holding HAWXX back from being properly exceptional at this stage, mostly tied to the execution. For the human edge that Papadimitriou proudly wields, she doesn’t often temper it with a size that reaches out further, even though she definitely could. She’s not flat or underpowered either, but her voice can waver at a mid-level when it could easily crack into the upper reaches. It’s true of the sound too, honestly. HAWXX reliance of accumulating tension can sometimes feel at the expense of a roaring, soaring rock anthem, and it can leave a song like Soulbreaking Machines feeling a little stodgy.
Of course, a lot of that can be chalked up to your typical debut album teething problems, as HAWXX evidently have a clear idea of what they want to be, even if it’s not fully actualised yet. The overall heaviness speaks for itself, where there’s a pretty crushing suite of riffs to power Death Makes Sisters Of Us All and The Worst Thing, among plenty others. Just on the basis of monolithic rock tracks when even the hardiest stone exterior will bristle with latent power, HAWXX have set themselves up remarkably well to move forward. There’s an air of real determination about them, more so than many similar acts. There’s not the flagrancy to know that success is deigned by birthright; you can tell that HAWXX are putting the work in on this album, and that alone makes them a lot more compelling as an act. It requires a tenacity to sell that others frequently feel they’re too ‘good’ to show off.
All of that is with full awareness that HAWXX’s best days are likely ahead of them, too. Just on the briefest glance at what Earth, Spit, Blood And Bones has to offer, it’s abundantly clear that they aren’t a band for whom resting on their laurels is useful. Even with the occasional kink to iron out, there’s every bit of evidence to suggest that that’ll get done sooner rather than later, and it’s exceptionally good to feel like that’s the case. The flag for noticeable growth and deliberate purpose in this brand of hard rock and metal is being flown by HAWXX, seemingly singlehandedly. Just based on what they’ve shown off on their first go around, it’s only going to be raised higher and higher in the future.
For fans of: Rage Against The Machine, Alter Bridge, Nova Twins
‘Earth, Spit, Blood And Bones’ by HAWXX is out now.
Words by Luke Nuttall