Review: Maggot Heart ‘Hunger’

Since I started writing for The Sleeping Shaman back in 2019 (how time flies!), I have covered many artists, some of whom I have returned to and some who, I have to be blunt, haven’t elicited the same level of excitement to warrant repeated listening, Maggot Heart thankfully do not fall into this latter category.

Maggot Heart 'Hunger' Artwork
Maggot Heart ‘Hunger’ Artwork

Formed in 2016 by former The Oath, Beastmilk and Grave Pleasures member Linnéa Olsson (guitar/vocals) and more than ably backed by bassist Olivia Airey and drummer Uno Bruniusson, Maggot Heart have been bringing us their intoxicating brand of experimental alt-rock goodness ever since. Releases to date include the City Girls EP, the Dusk To Dusk and Mercy Machine full-lengths and a split with Okkultokrati, the latter two of which I covered for The Shaman. It’s been a solid two years since their last release and Hunger, their third full-length album comes at just the right time for fans such as myself who have been, ahem, hungry for new material (so to speak).

The title of album opener Scandinavian Hunger gives you the impression that the track must be the kind of furious black metal one would associate with bands such as 1349 and Darkthrone (nods to Transilvanian Hunger?). While the track shares a similar darkness to those bands, therein the comparisons end, instead we move more in the shadows of swampy punk-blues ala The Scientists, Gun Club etc, underpinned all the while by Linnéa‘s distinctive Patti Smith influenced vocals. Fantastic.

Nil By Mouth initially recalls the twisted noise-rock of the Jesus Lizard’s Nub as well as classic post-punk/death-rock and LBD, the longest track on the album at six minutes twenty-five, offers up an interesting musical diversion employing, as it does, the use of both a sax and a somewhat danceable rhythm section, the former reminding me of the Teardrop Explodes and their track Reward, all we need now is a cameo by that band’s Julian Cope to complete the full effect. Sophisti pop, new wave, call it what you will, this is a band clearly unafraid to stretch their musical boundaries to achieve something truly magical in the process.

amazing alternative rock with a jet-black goth-rock influence…

Archer challenges the band’s fans yet further by taking them on yet another genre-hopping stylistic adventure, the musical equivalent, if you will, of jutting your chin out in a potentially combative situation and daring the other person to have a pop. The presence of a piano, as well as an aforementioned sax, demonstrates a classy glammy alt-pop edge that betrays a ‘70s Bowie influence. An intriguing piece and my favourite track on the album.

This Shadow is amazing alternative rock with a jet-black goth-rock influence along the lines of Bloodletting era Concrete Blonde while Looking Back At You is a little Doomier with some nice nods to Black Math Horseman’s brand of psychedelic post-metal if they were fronted by Siouxsie Sioux rather than Sera Timms. Concrete Soup is hard rock with some tasty Sabbathian Iommi fashioned riffs, which to quote S.O.D. will induce some solid ‘fist banging mania’ (but thankfully not of the poodle-haired hair-metal variety). Parasite betrays the band’s Voivod’s influences that (to my ears anyway) have been missing for a good portion of the album and proves an ideal conclusion to proceedings.

I’ll be honest, Hunger was not quite what I was expecting, for a start, it is denser and maybe not as immediate as their previous releases, and as such I did struggle to initially engage with it. It could be described as a ‘grower’ that requires persistence and dedication for it to click, but once it does click, you’ll be left more than satisfied, that I guarantee.

Label: Svart Records | Rapid Eye Records
Band Links: Official | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills