The Maldives is a small and scattered nation in the Indian Ocean, comprised of two chains of islands and atolls running north to south in roughly parallel lines—it lies approximately 500 miles southwest of the southern tip of India, in case you’re looking for it on the map right now. The land mass of the Maldives comprises only a small percentage of the nation’s total area, which is another way of saying that most of the Maldives is just water, and of the approximately 1200 small islands that comprise that fractional land-area, only 200 are inhabited by a population of roughly 400,000, making the Maldives the smallest and least populous nation in Asia. At an average of 4 feet above sea level (and only roughly 3 feet higher than that at its highest peak), it’s also topographically the lowest nation on Earth. It is an entirely Islamic nation, where any non-Islamic practice is expressly forbidden by law. And it has at least three metal bands, of which Serenity Dies is one.
And that’s the most interesting aspect of Serenity Dies—the fact that they’re from a country with which, more likely than not, you’re unfamiliar. Beyond that, they’re doing nothing special, bringing you Trivium-esque radio-friendly nu-thrash, clearly inspired by Metallica, Testament, Exodus, Sepultura, the usuals. Given that Serenity Dies is definitely working with geographic and cultural inconveniences, some leniency is granted, but nonetheless, on the musical front, nothing on Hacksawcracy breaks from the pack. Everything here is by-the-book—there’s the thrash riffing (toned down here; technical, this is not); the occasional nod to melodeath influence in the lead-work; some chugga-slam moments; the half-snarled vocals, a brief stab at screaming and even a clean chorus in “Psycho Ride,” the album’s poppiest moment… Should Serenity Dies’ allegiance to the late 1980s be questioned, Hacksawcracy is also the 4,589th album to use the George H.W. Bush “new world order” sound byte.
I’m uncertain if Serenity Dies is copying the Triviums / All That Remains’of the world, or if they’re copying the bands that Trivium copied and thus they arrived at similar results by following the same chain of influences. Either way, they’re here. Were there some sort of native Maldivian flavor in the mix, I’d be more interested in the results, but as it stands now, here or there or somewhere in between, Serenity Dies sounds like Local Opening Band A at the Machine Head concert in Peoria about three years ago.
Still, I applaud Serenity Dies for their efforts—it can’t be easy for them, certainly not as much so as for Western acts. (Building a fanbase through touring has gotta be a bitch in a chain of tiny islands 500 miles from a significant landmass.) They’re clearly doing what they love to do and doing it solely for the love of doing it. But I don’t love Hacksawcracy, although to be fair, I don’t hate it—I feel very little about it in either direction. In the end, it’s simply that it’s too derivative of the giants and in the shadow of more recent bands that are second-rate themselves. Those readers more attuned to the commercial side of modern groovy thrash may find merit herein, but to these ears, nu-thrash is old news.
And yes, I learned almost everything in the first paragraph from Wikipedia this morning.