Hacktivist, getting back in the game.
Remember Hackitivst? Well, they hit back the other week with their brand new song, ‘Reprogram‘. Their first original new release in almost two years (their recent ‘Spitfire‘ Prodigy cover in honour of Keith Flint’s passing not counting), ‘Reprogram‘ is more Hacktivist to quench the thirst of H-fans everywhere. It’s just more bouncy, hip-hop-infused tech-metal!
New(ish) vocalist Jot Maxi, who replaced Ben Marvin back in 2017 and debuted on ‘2 Rotten‘, fits the band’s mould perfectly. His wicked half-rapping/half-screamed vocals in the verses and choruses have so much grit and grime, complementing the fast and supportive rapping flow of fellow vocalist, Jermaine ‘J’ Hurley. Jot isn’t trying to fill the shoes Ben left behind, rather, he’s bringing his own thing to Hacktivist’s signature style. And that’s sweet. New guitarist James Hewitt (who joined last year) has some tasty whammy dives, solid headless-stock djent tones, and some super gated down-tuned chugs. It’s nothing new for what Hacktivist usually do, but it’s all serviceable. The insanely in-sync rhythm section of bassist Josh Gurner and drummer Rich Hawking are as sick as ever in their solid groove placement as well. All with slick production (suss that outro) and some cool bleeping synths heard in the background of the verses.
Lyrically, ‘Reprogram‘ is very anti-establishment, but is also Hacktivist flogging the same old thematic corpse they’ve had since the early days. It’s an end-of-days piece; talking about what happens when “computers go down“, how our minds are eroded by modern online pleasures, and of one not logging into the system. As per usual, it’s the band showing everyone that they sure aren’t boot-lickers, maybe trying too hard to call out crooked governments and flawed societal systems, but in a very generalised way. There’s a lot of really crazy and quite scary shit going on in the U.K. right now politically, and if Hacktivist’s lyrics were far more direct and pointed, I can’t help but feel that would substantially elevate their new material up as well. I think they’ve got it in them for such commentary.
While I think everyone can agree with where the band are coming from, this song’s chorus of “I WILL NOT BOW DOWN/We will never bow down, we will never bow down” is kinda hard to take seriously. That, and track’s goofy mid-section where they mock Instagram and Twitter users, which is pretty low-hanging fruit at this point. It may have been better to dive even deeper into that subject and figure out where those vapid social media addictions could potentially lead. Even so, you gotta love it when bands who’s success and reach really wouldn’t be what it is without the use of various online platforms and social media tools.
Despite all of this, there’s also not as much spark to ‘Reprogram‘ as there once was for this band; back when the band were dropping that insane self-titled EP in 2012 and their respective bad-ass covers of Cypress Hill and Kayne West/Jaz-Z. I honestly feel that too many significant member changes (like guitarist/clean singer Tim ‘Timfy James’ Beazley leaving in 2018) and the waits in-between releases have killed some of the traction this U.K. outfit once cultivated, removing lots of interest behind the Hacktivist name. Of course, I wish these guys nothing but the best in their endeavours as I loved their first few releases, and it’s so cool to see them keeping on, but this new single doesn’t live up to the bar that they’d set so high previously.