Communic – Hiding From The World – Album Review

Artist: Communic

Album Title: Hiding From The World

Label: AFM Records

Date of Release: 20 November 2020

I’m sure there any many of you out there that, like me, will have a selection of bands that you think are ok, that you like, but you don’t love. One of these bands, for me, is Communic. I know friends of mine who will be shaking their heads in disbelief about this, but it’s true. Communic are a band that, up until now, I have thought are ok, but have never bowled me over. Live, they are great, but on disc, not so much for me. And yet, despite that, I had to check out their latest release, ‘Hiding From The World’, the minute the promo became available.

For those unfamiliar with Communic, they are a Norwegian trio formed of bassist Erik Mortensen, drummer Tor Atle Andersen and guitarist/vocalist Oddleif Stensland. They have been around since 2003, releasing five albums during this time. Their music is progressive in nature, but there are also elements of classic heavy metal, power and thrash to be heard within their output. Focusing on tight rhythms, strong riffs and powerful, clean vocals, Communic also find room for some melody. However, personally-speaking, I have always wanted more melody to counteract the technicality and perhaps this is partly why I have never fully taken to the trio. Whatever it is that holds me back, I fervently hope that ‘Hiding From The World’ is the album that changes my mind.

And you know what? On balance, after much listening, I think it is. It has certainly prompted me to consider re-visiting their previous records to see if I have made a mistake with them.

That said, the modus operandi of Communic hasn’t really changed that much. There are no major stylistic left-turns, with the above description remaining largely accurate and intact. The trio’s penchant for longer compositions remains too, with all eight tracks with the exception of a one-minute interlude piece clocking in at around seven minutes or significantly longer. But, dare I say kit, there feels like there’s more variety on ‘Hiding From The World’ than ever before.

The epiphany came when listening to the title track for the umpteenth time. It begins with a quieter intro, where the emotion in Stensland’s vocals shine through, only to be echoed expertly through an equally emotional and moody lead guitar solo. When the heavier riffs hit, they are slightly slower and resonate beautifully, underpinned by some great drum and bass-playing. Then, out of nowhere, we’re hit with an incredibly melodic, hooky chorus that catches my attention. It doesn’t last overly long and swiftly we’re back to the chunky riffs. But then there’s another release from the aggression, as acoustic guitars and poignant leads come back to the forefront, this time taking time to build in intensity, the trio happy to explore this more introspective vibe. For my money, this has to be one of the most memorable songs in the Communic discography thanks to the striking melodies and for the variation demonstrated within its nine-minute-plus run-time.

If that wasn’t enough, the song demonstrates just how strong the production is. The separation between instruments means that everything can be clearly heard, with the bass standing out on a number of occasions as it delivers a pleasing pulse to the music. But there’s also muscularity for the guitars and a precise snap for the drums.

I may have singled out the title track from significant praise, but it’s fair to say that the quality on offer is not confined to the one composition.

‘My Temple Of Pride’ is another great track, again with a surprising number of twists and turns, from all-out double-pedal-led attack, to slower, groovier sections, as well as further pronounced melody, albeit more fleeting than the title track. Speaking of groove, ‘Face In The Crowd’ is one to get the head banging and the hips swaying, however reluctantly us metalheads generally are to such movement. It’s a heavy, bruising affair but it’s catchy and rather irresistible in its own way. There are smatterings of targeted speed and brutality at points, which only serves to make each element stand out all the more. There is also a demonstrable slowing of pace further in the mid-section before a return to a more hypnotic, metronomic groove to see the song to a close.

‘Born Without A Heart’ is the longest composition on the record, as it nudges double figures. It also happens to be another favourite for me. The acoustic-led intro is beautiful, as are the vocals of Oddleif Stensland, who sings so passionately over a more brooding and darker soundscape. I get a Nevermore-meets-Iced Earth vibe at times, but not overly so – more just flashes of recognition here and there.

When ‘Scavengers Await’ kicks in, it’s like I’m listening to ‘…And Justice For All’ with a proper production. The opening riff definitely channels that 80s Bay Area thrash vibe. From there though, the band dabble in a riff or two that has more in keeping with classic doom than anything else. Again, the head nods in appreciation as I listen and become more familiar with it.

The album closer comes in the form of ‘Forgotten’ and it features a moody, acoustic guitar-led intro, the preserve of the ‘classic’, epic metal ballad. Stensland’s vocals are beguiling, as is the melodic guitar lead that follows. The track gently builds, only to deliver some gigantic, distorted chords, the kind that could topple temples. It isn’t until the final couple of minutes though that a sense of urgency enters, alongside faster riffs and pacier drumming. However, it’s all the more powerful for that very reason, as it finally throws off the shackles of the ballad.

I’m not sure whether I have been wrong all along, or whether I just happen to be in the mood for this kind of music. Either way, I am finding myself enjoying ‘Hiding From The World’ much more than I first expected that I might. Complete with cool artwork from Travis Smith, ‘Hiding From The World’ is easily the best album that I have heard from the Communic trio. It is more melodic, more varied, and far more interesting as far as I’m concerned, than any of their previous records. Or at least that’s how I feel right now – I may be wrong and, in which case, it has caused me to seriously revisit past endeavours and consider my feelings towards the band.

The Score of Much Metal: 88%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Wolverine – A Darkened Sun

Avandra – Skylighting

Pyramaze – Epitaph

Necrophobic – Dawn Of The Damned

Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night

Draconian – Under A Godless Veil

Mörk Gryning – Hinsides Vrede

DGM – Tragic Separation

Perduratum – Exile’s Anthology

Carcass – Despicable EP

Mors Principium Est – Seven

Cult Of Lilith – Mara

Helion Prime – Question Everything

Soul Secret – Blue Light Cage

Enslaved – Utgard

Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf

Amaranthe – Manifest

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Structural Disorder – Kingdom Crossing

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Prehistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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