It’s clear from the opening drum roll, which rapidly increases from mid-level volume to forceful urgency, that the Ghent-based Huracán are hungry to make a statement. Only seconds later, it also becomes apparent that this is not your typical deliberately paced post-metal offering. With its razor-sharp riffs, propulsive drumming, and psych-rooted vocals, their third release treads skillfully across substantial, rugged grounds rumbling with echoes that recall bands ranging from The Ocean to Pelican to Pallbearer. It is a record looking to balance the dark with the light, to present exhilaration as well as fury, and to find connections between those two feelings, which have much in common even existing as they do at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.
The album embodies both aggression and ardor, rendering an enduring, energetic outcry which expresses discontent, rage, passion, and vivacity in equal measures.
Standing in contrast to the record’s acerbic title are themes of decay spread over a broad framework of contexts. More specifically, this idea can be directly applied to artist Simon Barroo, who designed the album’s visual elements and appears in the video for the title track. Even as he continues to design striking optics, Barroo himself is suffering from a slow, degenerative loss of his eyesight. Looking at the album art one can clearly see the juxtaposition of joy and chaos in the constantly smiling face that perseveres even as its visage seems strained or broken. There is a beacon of bold, unwavering positivity amidst the maelstrom of ferocity that characterizes much of the record. This is seen distinctly in the persistently upbeat pacing provided by drummer Tijs De Langhe. Even as tracks like “We Are Very Happy” and “Before I Was Born” seem to spiral from agitation to near-madness during frenzied moments of spoken word, the percussion is always there to pick the listener up and set them back on a lively, raucous course. Equally important is manner in which his energy is matched by Geert Reygaert’s guitarwork and Bert Roos’ steadily pounding bass (who also provides most of the impassioned screams that accompany Christophe Willes’ vocals).
The album’s ethos can be glimpsed in the video for the single “Bruises” as well. A pitch perfect visual impression of these visceral sensibilities is provided by director Wim Reygaert, who contributed guest vocals on the track, and fulfilled some production duties for the record as well. He also sourced the impassioned interpretive dance performance that drives the clip, which wasn’t created with the song in mind, but certainly feels that way when the music is matched with the frenetic gesticulation on display. There is both intensity and wrath in the performer’s eyes and movements, magnified in moments of his fervent fire-breathing, interspersed throughout. However, behind the cacophony of the imagery there remains a vibrant spirit. There is an assertive defiance in his approach as he backs down the camera, and within this provocation there is exuberance and triumph. It is a staging that mirrors the dynamics which develop as We Are Very Happy progresses, perfectly capturing the tour de force quality of the record. Ultimately, the title perhaps isn’t as cynical as it first seems, and it is possible for exhilaration and animosity to exist harmoniously in the same space. Huracán undoubtedly present a confident case supporting this idea by the time the record draws to a close.