2021 +? HYDRA mkIII ?

last updated : 21/1/21

2021

There’s just a hint that Adam may be considering re-recording some of the original HYDRA songs with the benefit of modern equipment and experience once COVID is out of the way…

 

ADAM:
Listening back, and with obvious massive advances in my playing and the modern equipment available, I’ve actually thought how interesting it would be to give some of the old stuff a go. We’d need a solid powerhouse drummer.

I’d probably insist on some lyrical changes, and am certain Martin wouldn’t want to know, and I’m also sure Frazer has retired. Difference is I think, I’m the one whose sentimental about it, despite how I was treated, and I acted with great dignity and remained loyal and friendly back then, so it would be no problem having a blast with those guys. They’re my mates, and they were special times.

 

Adam was recently gracious enough to allow me to purchase the unreleased HYDRA recordings that still survive. I’d expected they would be interesting but, quite frankly, a bit shite. However, I was so wrong that I was struck speechless. And the last thing that I’d expected after all these years of putting together this SABBAT collection was that I’d immediately think that early HYDRA was better than early SABBAT. But in my opinion it was.

Right from the very beginning of the opening track ‘Bleed For The Hydra’ on the ’84 Rehearsal when Martin growls;-

“We’re on stage now and we’re going to blow these bastards to fucking Hell and back! BLACK METAL!!!!”

it has a dark, distorted evil vibe which immediately made me think of the first time I heard early BATHORY.

Martin’s vocals are more like twisted snarls, the lyrics almost totally indiscernible, buried deep in the overall mix, certainly nothing like the rapid staccato chanting he later developed for SABBAT, and the slower paced delivery is far more effective.

Frazer’s bass has a wonderful deeply downtuned vibe that dominates and heavily defines the overall sound and if the already fast drumming had been even faster the whole thing would have sat well alongside any early black metal band that I can remember hearing back in those days.

The Narrowboat Tapes from a year later sound quite different, largely because unfortunately the recordings barely pick up the bass and drums at all and so the sheer heaviness apparent on the Rehearsal recording is lost. Martin’s vocals have become far clearer and more similar in style to that he used later for SKYCLAD, his cadence hinting at on-stage theatrics that were apparently a very important part of the bands performance. There are some surprisingly fast songs (eg. ‘The Devil’s Advocate’) and some surprisingly mellow ones (eg. ‘Step Outside’), hinting at influences from HELL and VENOM to JUDAS PRIEST (thankfully without any high-pitched screaming!).

My personal favourite of these later recordings is ‘The Scarlet Woman’ with its crust-punk guitar riffing sounding like AMEBIX with SKYCLAD vocals

HYDRA’s on-stage confidence is very apparent even though these were only the band’s second and third gigs and the banter with the crowd is priceless! There is no doubt that they thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and their fans demanded not just one but two encores.

I’m not a musician so my ears are no good at noticing the mistakes that Adam is all too aware of. I hear them as someone who has listened to hundreds of rough raw metal demo tapes for decades. I love metal to sound rough and evil, but I also like a good tune, a song, catches and hooks, something memorable.

And HYDRA had them in spades.