HDK System Overload

Formerly known as HATE DEATH KILL, one would expect HDK's System Overload to be a collection of extreme black metal with lyrics about the destruction of humankind. But the side project of AFTER FOREVER guitarist / songwriter Sander Gommans, who wanted to create a heavier album than his progressive / goth metal band, isn't quite as brutal as you would think. His eagerness to show his 'dark side' consists of a hyperactive mashup of death and thrash metal, with a heavy dose of Euro-flavoured keyboards for added measure. It might sound like a colossal mess, but it actually works, as he narrowly misses the cheesy mark by inviting some of metal's best vocalists to show their stuff. Clean vocals seamlessly blend with grunts and barks and, despite excessive double-bass, the well-produced album is a gateway for those who would rather tip-toe into the darkness than jump in head first. (Season of Mist)