Shai Hulud is arguably one of the most important hardcore bands of the better part of the last two decades. The late 1990's saw the release of the EP A Profound Hatred of Man and the subsequent LP Hearts Once Nourished With Love and Compassion. These two releases shook the very foundation of hardcore. The dividing lines between the forward thinking nature of progressive metal, the break-neck speed of melodic punk rock and the raw anger of hardcore were obscured. Their sound at the time was not all that dissimilar to the legendary Christian metallic hardcore band Strongarm, however Shai Hulud really took this recipe to soaring heights.

Over the years since the release of those monumentally important releases, the band had its share of ups and downs. Though steadily churning out quality releases like The Fall of Every Man, That Within Blood Ill Tempered and Misanthropy Pure, it seemed very difficult for them to maintain consistency in their own camp. Many of the players changed from release to release and in most cases this can become not only crippling to the progress of any band... but it is often the sign of their dying whimper. Such is not the case here.

As mentioned, Shai Hulud has seen more than their fair share of lineup changes. The most notable being the departure of their original singer Chad Gilbert (who went on to find great success in his pop-punk band New Found Glory). Personally, there were always two hallmark traits to the sound that this band crafted... the progressive and pummeling musicianship and the venom spewing vocals of Chad. Through all of the releases featuring different frontmen, the music not only remained mostly intact... it got better. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the vocals and that, to me, was the downfall of this band.

Sometime early in 2012, I read a news article online that stated that not only would Chad Gilbert be producing the new Shai Hulud record... he would be manning the microphone. Personally this was a concept that I wasn't sure how to digest. The original singer of one of my favorite bands was going to return to "lend" his vocals to a single release and would not be officially reuniting with the band (aside from a few special live performances). At the end of the day, I decided that it was just best to sit back and enjoy it while I can... and that is what I did.

Well... here we have Reach Beyond the Sun. Immediately upon hitting play, I was taken back to the late 90's to a time when in my own mind, the term "hardcore" was far less defined. Bands like Shai Hulud could thrive and inspire real emotion through their misanthropic, yet realistically optimistic lyrics. Their utilization of a melodic metal and punk influence could be grafted seamlessly into a foundation of hardcore with masterful precision. All of this was possible... but in 2013 is that still true? Will the hardcore youth accept a band that reaches so far outside of the box? If given even half a chance, I say yes. This record is incredible in every possible facet and is a true return to form for the band. Any lifelong fan will feel right at home with these tracks... and those who haven't yet given them a shot are in for a real treat.

The bottom line is that in this moment in time with the state of hardcore and its turnover rate being what it is, coupled with the amount of time between releases... this just might be the most important record of their career. Shai Hulud needed to make this one count... and they may have just released what will be seen as their masterpiece in years to come.

Buy this immediately.