Hackberry - Breathing Space

Hackberry are pretty unknown, but those that do know they are a five piece from the Netherlands that perform all instrumental prog/psychedelic rock or metal, depending on the track they are hearing. The music here is definitely not by any means aggressive or abrasive, like a Post Metal trip or overly dramatic and keyboard soaked like that of solo work from Jordan Rudess. But rather somewhere in between. There is a bit of that trance like melody lines from the guitars here and there, some darkly dramatic riffs backed by haunting keyboards, and overall just a very vibrant sound that can be compared to the likes of some of Opeth’s work from “Ghost Reveries” or Dream Theater’s “Six Degrees….” One thing can be certain: listeners will not get bored. This isn’t going to be like a drone/doom album where it sounds like the same track goes on forever.

While the album is only 4 tracks each one is pretty long. There is the calming ‘Lunares’ that doesn’t really pick up until halfway through, and the psychedelic elements are very present, and there is the more solo driven ‘Solitary March’ which is a bit heavier, but not quite overdone like a fantasy metal solo. ‘Foreshadow’ has a bit of that Spanish influence with some of the guitar lines, but overall tends to fall in line with same style as the previous track. The keyboards are still there, but not as prominent as the guitars take the main focus. ‘Manticore’ is a bit more dramatic, especially with the backing choirs, and almost a more crackling sound in productions from the guitar distortion, but serves as the excellent outro for the album. This song just builds and builds till it explodes, much like an Animals As Leaders song, but with less jarring prog touches. The bass is also more prominent here with its jazzy tones and serves up a big impact on the music, whereas the drums which were a bit prolific on a track like ‘Lunares’ seems more buried or restrained on this last track.

This type of metal isn’t quite for everyone, especially without the vocals and with its balance of soft and heavy it almost sounds like decent background music rather than something to get amped up to. But, at despite its relaxed tone, “Breathing Space” is still very enjoyable and one cannot deny the talent of these 5 musicians. Hackberry have something going for them and will appeal to fans of both Rock and Metal in general with their new album for 2023.

3 / 5 STARS

1. Lunares
2. Solitary March
3. Foreshadow
4. Manticore