The fourth long-player from Florida's massively influential metalcore primitives Shai Hulud finds the band diving head-first back into its heavy roots, contrasting the more-punk-than-anything approach that they took on 2009's "Misanthropy Pure." The record is first and foremost a hardcore record, but it is inflected with metalcore elements and even some thrash metal tinges. As such, it marks a bit of a return-to-form for Shai Hulud in that it returns the group to the original, straight-edge-influenced sound that birthed them. It might seem a bit obvious to say, but it is a sound that is overflowing with crunchy guitar licks and foaming-at-the-mouth bellows. And on the whole, it falls somewhere between Sick Of It All, Hatebreed, Converge, Deadguy, and Zao.
2013's "Reach Beyond The Sun" kicks off with the explosive "The Mean Spirits, Breathing," a thrashy, aggressive, and blood-pumping opener with crunching, serrated guitar riffing, pounding drums, and visceral, hardcore-influenced vocals. This is followed-up by "I, Saturnine," a slower, but still no-less heavy, intense, and angry hardcore beat-down, and (skipping ahead a track), "A Human Falling," a very Hatebreed-esque track that is centered around potently memorable, Jamey Jasta-reminiscent shouting, and abrasive, gnawing, bone-dry guitars. The tune separates itself from the Hatebreeds and Terrors of the world, though, by fusing in some actually melodic guitar leads, which are a nice touch. And the record's absurdly-entitled centerpiece, "Man Into Demon: And Their Faces Are Twisted With The Pain Of Living," continues in this same vein, marrying fiery guitar licks and thunderous, lumbering rhythms with a catchy, Anthrax-style shout-along refrain.
A handful of the album's other more noteworthy moments include "Medicine To The Dead," a speedy bruiser that features guest vocals from three different vocalists (Damien Moyal, Matt Mazzali, and Geert Van Der Welde); "To Suffer Fools," a positively blistering mosh-pit-ready anthem mainly centered around memorable vocals, lyrics, and thrash-derived, buzzsaw guitar crunch; the mid-tempo (but, again, still quite brutal) chugger that is "Think The Adder Benign"; and "At Least A Plausible Case For Pessimism," which slips in a little acoustic guitar intro to serve as a nice monotony-breaker (even if it comes a little late in the set).
Clocking in at a mere thirty-four minutes (almost on the dot) in length, the record is made into a compact, concise, vitriolic, and potent blast of energy. But it is S.H.'s thoroughly tight playing (it could bust-up concrete!), extremely passionate and vehement vocals, and exceedingly raw production/overall sound, coupled with an undeniably noticeable (if, albeit, pretty faint) positive vibe, and the band's penchant for meaningful, deeper-than-most lyricism, takes "Reach Beyond..." to the next level, a level that transcends the mediocrity heard from most modern metal/hardcore records.