Hobbsy – Risen From The Dead

According to most reliable counts, the Bible records nine incidents of the dead being risen from the grave. I half hoped that Ben “Hobbsy” Hobbs’ latest release, Risen From The Dead, might have had acknowledged this and contained nine tracks. It’s got eight.

Hobbsy is a former bass player of Australian rock band Smokin’ Joker and has played support to Deep Purple. He brings a lot of ambition, experience and insight to this latest release.

Hobbsy and his band (Clint Johannes on vox, Brett Rerekura, Alex Williams and Andrew Cromwell on lead guitar) brings us a lyrical wander through the primary teleological and eschatological preoccupations across the spectra of grunge, heavy, death and thrash metal. Risen From the Dead tackles the unfolding story of an internal struggle with serious questions: What, if anything, can we expect during the eschaton: the final and post-historical period of the Cosmos after God’s Final Judgement? What happens at the point of death? Can we really rely on a hope of true resurrection? Can strange and frightening powers be harnessed to ensure survival beyond death?

Since the advent of Black Sabbath’s identification with the works of Satan and taking influences from Satanic worship and the mythology of the Dark Arts, the Biblical End of Day’s has long been the preoccupation of the heavy metal, death and thrash metal scenes. We’re no longer shocked or appalled when bands invoke Satan or discuss the struggle between Good and Evil. But it served a useful purpose. It gave voice, in an increasingly secular world, to the existential issues that trouble almost everyone. Issues of Good and Evil, the existence or absence of God and people struggling with the (real or imagined) fatal temptations of Satan.

Even today matters of the resurrection are never far from the imagination. Hardly a week goes by without some claim that Michael Jackson has eluded death, or of Hitler’s mysterious escape from the Berlin’s Armageddon. On a more synthetically medical level, zombies continue to feature in every possible vector of modern popular culture. Seventeen million people regularly watch The Walking Dead. Is there any wonder that these secular resurrections should persist in inspiring echoes in the realm of heavy metal?

Hobbsy has avowed an intention to return to epic themes with his music and this is evident in The Second Coming which acts as a brief, crisp and firm introit to Risen From The Dead. Exciting and operatic, it’s a solid guitar and drum opening. The Few and the Many follows next – it’s a traditional synopsis of the narrative of the Final Judgement and Biblical apocalypse. Again, the strength of guitar playing shines through.

Mannya Jam, the short sixth track, is not the thematic detour it might first appear. Mannya Jam is inspired by a visit to Mannya, a town in southern Uganda. In keeping with the album’s core, Mannya itself has seemingly risen from the depths. Once a destitute settlement with a sky-high mortality rate, Mannya has recently experienced an injection of hope from government support, international aid and various missionary work. Improvements in health care and agriculture have enabled a literal resurrection and revitalization in the area.

Polio is slowly been eradicated there and the Australian based Cotton On Foundation donates the proceeds of its ethical products to the people of Mannya. The jam is enjoyable, brisk and features the sounds of a musical group local to Mannya. Mannya Jam shows a versatile and humane side to the artists who have assembled an excellent album that may be at risk of being overlooked.

Overall, in Risen from the Dead Hobbsy deals with big issues and tackles them with maturity and confidence. The riffs, though powerful and well-crafted, take no chances. Everything fully falls in line with the classical expectations of the genre. That’s not to say that this is a dull or uninteresting album. There’s a solid craft in evidence. The provocative themes are well served by the bands strong vocals, energy and musical skill.

Click here to purchase Risen From The Dead for a very modest & fair price on Bandcamp.

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