Burn After Reaping

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Of all the names a band might chose to represent themselves and their music, Hackneyed seems like a surefire non-starter -- or at least admissible only for a comedy group, but surely not a death metal band! Well, clearly, something was lost in translation for these otherwise precocious German teenagers, who nevertheless hung tough enough to deliver this second album (for their second label), thanks largely to a fervid fan base in their homeland. Not surprisingly, that fan base generally shares the group's youth and inexperience, but that's no cause for old-timers to dismiss them outright as practitioners of "MySpace Metal"; that is, a diluted regurgitation of genre fundamentals, often subject to heretical departures from form (like the clean vocal passages in "Deatholution") in the eyes of purists. No, Hackneyed do literally nothing to reinvent the death metal wheel -- creatively or aesthetically -- on the sophomore Burn After Reaping, but then, neither do 95-percent of active bands twice their age, and there's enough earnest desire on display here to get the boys extra credit for effort. That and a few clever ideas, as well, like the surprisingly rock-rooted staccato riff closing "Finger on the Trigger," and the unexpected melodicism threaded into "Redying," which wisely avoids the metalcore fate of its immediate follow-up, "Kingdom of Thoughts." The band also delivers at least one irresistible, moshing vehicle in the oddly named "Weed Flavoured Meat," but perhaps their greatest failing is padding much of the album with slower-paced offerings that simply never get the blood pumping. In other words, Hackneyed still have a lot to learn, but they're not entirely lacking in freshness or original ideas -- whatever their name suggests.

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