Traditional Metal from Spain
Hitten are quickly becoming one of Spain’s premier traditional metal bands. With two full length albums and an EP already under their belt, these modern day torchbearers show no sign of stopping as they dropped their third album, Twist of Fate, earlier this week. Their last effort, 2016’s State of Shock, was a high-energy and modern take on the classic speed metal sound we all know and love. Hitten have brought on a new vocalist for the new album, and with him comes a shift in direction away from the speed metal barrage and towards a more relaxed sound.
I’ll be completely honest here, when I heard that Hitten were moving away from that classic speed metal style I was very worried. State of Shock brought us memorable choruses and a flurry of riffs that harkened back to Riot’s legendary Thundersteel. I just didn’t get it. Why would they possibly want to abandon something that clearly worked so well for them? Going in with this mindset, I wasn’t too happy with my very first listen of Twist of Fate. It almost felt like a bait and switch.
Gone are the fast, palm-muted riffs found on tracks like “Wrong Side of Heaven”. Instead, we have mid-tempo rockin’ sections that are more reminiscent of Scorpions and Dokken than anything else. Even the song titles and lyrics, with tracks like “Rockin’ out the City” and “In the Heat of the Night”, lean towards this sound. The hard ‘n’ heavy style is a distinctly new direction for the band and the change is tough to swallow at first. Rest assured however, I can safely say that Hitten damn well know how to execute it. There are hints of more chorus oriented US power metal bands in Twist of Fate – I hear a fair amount of Fifth Angel and Shok Paris in addition to the previously mentioned Scorpions and Dokken.
As has been the case for the rest of Hitten’s discography, the guitars are absolutely killer and Twist of Fate keeps up with this trend. The twin-guitar passages that we’ve come to expect from guitarists Johnny and Dani are out in full force here. There’s no shortage of melodies and soulful leads for us to enjoy. The production on Twist of Fate is top notch – it’s got a modern touch to it without being stale. With guitars and vocals at the forefront, Hitten make sure to play to their strengths with the mixing.
Just one verse from Alex Panza’s vocals is all it takes to understand why Hitten went in a new direction. With his emphatic midrange and soaring highs, Panza is right at home singing in the hard ‘n’ heavy style. It’s clear that the mid-tempo rocker style of riffs, which dominate the vast majority of Twist of Fate, were written with Panza’s strengths in mind. The drums and bass are solid on the album, but it’s clear that the guitars and vocals are meant to be the focus. I would have liked to hear more variety in this area to help round out Hitten’s sound.
State of Shock is a pure nostalgia rush, plain and simple. Hitten set out with one goal in mind – to bring us classic early 80s heavy metal. It’s an easy going and authentic rocker that’s sure to be stuck in your head for days to come. If that’s what you’re after then this album will hit the spot.
Album Rating: 85/100
Favorite Track: Take it All