Hive – Most Vicious Animal (Seeing Red Records/Crown and Thorn Ltd)

It’s shaping up to be one hell of a year for d-beat – perhaps the fractious political climate has something to do with it, or imminent environmental catastrophe… Anyway, incendiary new releases by Martyrdöd, Victims and Dödläge are on the shelves and Wolfbrigade are set to unleash a new album this autumn. Minnesota’s Hive have also weighed in with Most Vicious Animal, a rabid, snarling dog of a hardcore record, and an opus which leaves no doubt that the fast-rising quartet can mix it with the scene’s veterans.

Like the finest crust and d-beat acts, Hive – who started out in 2014 – build on a blueprint, rather than stick rigidly to it. There’s variety on their second opus, subtleties embedded in the torrent of rage, unexpected twists and turns in their landscape of grime and despair: Human Jaw marries the dramatic chord progressions of Tragedy to raw, Scandinavian savagery; Ritualized Crime drags the album into corrosive sludge; the mid-paced, metallic Deceiving Days pounds you into the dust; and Threaten starts with a bleak wander through the wastelands, before a sprint finish into Armageddon.

There’s also Hive’s ability to seamlessly weave hair-raising melodies into military grade, d-beat fretwork. It comes to the fore on songs like Fear of a Female Planet and Tomorrow Will Be Worse. And in taking this approach, the Minneapolis outfit lift their work above the myriad dis-clones on both sides of the Atlantic – to often stunning effect. It gives Most Vicious Animal a wider scope and a heftier emotional clout.

Ones to watch? Most certainly. Just five years into their career, Hive are already creating a legacy to be proud of.