Originally started out as Hate Death Kill, a humorous side project of After Forever guitarist Sander Gommans, this project now finds its name HDK, and with the demise of After Forever one has to wonder if this will evolve into something more permanent. Helping Gommans here are bassist Peter Vink, drummer Arjen van Weesenbeek, and a host of guest musicians and vocalists, including Andre Matos, Amanda Somerville, Marcel Coenen, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, and others. Though this all may smell 'all star projecty' to some, System Overload is actually a very strong extreme metal album that's pretty cohesive despite the rather large roster of guest stars.
Opening title cut is a frantic, thrash/death metal ripper, not unlike classic Strapping Young Lad, and there's an almost Fear Factory feel to "Let Go", a driving, groove laden futuristic death metal piece featuring some killer riffs from Gommans. More traditional metal fare rears its head on "Terrorist", while "Pedestal" is a raging mix of power metal, prog metal, and death metal, Amanda Somerville's soaring clean vocals doing battle with Gommans' evil growls. It's pure death metal on "On Hold", while "Breakdown" proves to be the odd one here, a strange mix of gothic metal, rap, and death metal, Somerville adding some stunning vocals that get driven into the ground by Paul Niessen's raps and Gommans' growls. It all works for some weird reason. Pounding, technical progressive metal is all the rage on the excellent "Fight or Flight", this one featuring Matos on clean vocals and Gommans & Mike Scheijen sharing the growls, with a healthy dose of intricate drum work and plenty of technical guitar and keyboard arrangements.
This one kind of quietly came out of nowhere and has the real potential to surprise a lot of people. Though hard to classify, System Overload contains plenty of extreme, power, and prog metal elements to appeal to a wide variety of listeners, and it will be interesting to see if Sander Gommans will decide to solidify a line-up and try and take HDK to the next level.
1) System Overload
3) Let Go
6) On Hold
10) Fight or Flight
11) Fine Lines