Leon : In 2015, the band Hackberry was born, a band that makes instrumental music with a cocktail of influences from progressive rock to psychedelics. A year later, the band released an EP called Desert Orchid and their debut album, Hackberry, came out late 2018, which is the album that I will be reviewing in this piece. The album consists of only four songs, of which the shortest is just under six minutes long. The first song, Ophidian Strike, is the longest on the album, lasting more than seventeen minutes. Although I was afraid at first that such long instrumental songs would turn boring quickly, my concerns luckily turned out to be unnecessary. The song evolves constantly in a very natural way, as a listener you are really being dragged into the music of the Dutch band. Now, do not be afraid that the band will show off one guitar solo after another, or an overload of complex rhythms. There are complex rhythms and guitar solos in the music, but they are only there when it is in service of the song. Let me tell you from experience that it is not easy to keep a long instrumental song interesting, so big compliments to the guys from Hackberry for their composition skills. The second song, Miraggio, lasts just under six minutes, making it the shortest song on the album. It starts with a nice piece of classical piano before it switches to progressive rock after a minute and a half, sounding a bit like the older Opeth, which again feels very natural. Unfortunately, I also found the first piece of criticism of the album, because I did not like the guitar solo here as it touches a few notes that, in my opinion, do not fit. That said, it is a song without any boring moments. The third song Desert Orchid continues the same way, starting with a calm passage after which the music continues to evolve, here too Hackberry shows how to understand how a song can remain interesting without the technical qualities of a band such as Dream Theater. The last song, Aboard, is a bit heavier than the other songs, personally I find this the least appealing song of the album. I love the dynamic of the calmer and harder moments, and Aboard is lacking exactly that.
It does not happen often that I find an instrumental album interesting, but Hackberry is a nice exception. The band shows that instrumental music does not necessarily has to mean that all songs need to contain endless guitar or keyboard solos, but that you have to keep creating good melodies and constantly change the dynamics of the songs. I am curious what will come from this band in the coming years because based on the debut I expect that we will hear a few more things from this band. A recommended album to check out!