Hippotraktor – Stasis

Heavy, blunt, brutal, and life-threatening. Four things that a hippopotamus and a piece of agricultural machinery have in common. Both are often covered in mud as well. Let us not repeat ourselves, for more on that, see the review of the excellent previous album Meridian. With Stasis, the Flemish band Hippotraktor once again delivers a sonic representation of the restlessness of human nature. That seems like enough of an introduction.

Where to begin? This is not an easy album. But there’s a lot of unrest in human nature of course. Hippotraktor presents their art in the form of progressive sludge and post-hardcore. They use various elements from bands like TesseractVolaThe OceanTool and Alkaloid. Above all, the music is oppressive and intense. Just like in all aspects of life and nature, we also find a constant battle between yin and yang in this Stasis, seeking ultimate harmony. Initially, we find this in the musical compositions. Thundering sludge is interspersed with layered progressive guitar work, with a focus on driving rhythm (compliments to Lander de Nyn for the varied drumming). This consistently builds up to new outbursts, with grooving filthiness roaring over the listener. The moments of respite are merely auditory illusions. Always threatening and dissonant, with demolition never far away.

The vocal delivery also shows a clear contrast. Stefan de Graef (known from Psychonaut) handles a part of the clean vocals but primarily takes on the distorted vocals. These latter leave a significant (but oh so delightful) mark on Hippotraktor‘s sound. The post-hardcore outbursts are very prominent in the mix and contribute to the overall destructive intensity. As a soothing counterpart, Sander Rom (known from L’itch) presents his well-placed clean outbursts. These are used less frequently and thus form a pleasant accent in the compositions.

Stasis starts with Descent and immediately dives in headfirst. We are going deep, that’s for sure. The track also contains some quiet moments, but that’s simply necessary to make the oppressive intensity somewhat manageable. The ears are still ringing when Echoes, with its varied dynamics, provides a balanced follow-up. The harmony between Stefan de Graef and Sander Rom is beautifully melodic. We could already hear Silver Tongue before the release of the album. Here too, dreamy passages alternate with heavy, very heavy fare. The ridiculously filthy riffs towards the end once again reveal the Belgian quintet’s intentions. Humanity is falling apart, so why take it easy? Just when I think the quiet-loud-quiet-loud formula is starting to get repetitive, Renegade kicks in. The progressive elements reach an ultimate boiling point here, providing a wonderful contrast with the grooving guitar parts. Pay attention to the extremely tight drumming (compliment number two for the percussionist on duty).

Then forget everything described so far. This album can be seen as three parts. The first three tracks form the prelude, pounding the earwax out of your ears. Renegade massages the mind into a state of supreme readiness. All this leads to the last three tracks of Stasis, the absolute finale and main act. In The Indifferent Human Eye, the dark clouds break open twice, and the almighty ruler speaks to his followers (you’ll recognize the moments when they occur). The music puts you in a trance, leading to nodding heads paying homage to the gods of Hippotraktor. Chapeau! The title track then is grand, grander, grandest. Naturally, there’s also a jazzy interlude. And it all fits. Closing track The Reckoning is the most subdued song on the album. It’s almost absurd to hear an actual bluesy solo after just over five minutes. Here too, we swallow it all whole and enjoy the minutes we’re given.

I have to admit that this album didn’t fully click with me at first. After the initial listen, I felt a sense of confusion and overwhelming intensity. However, with each listen, the musical puzzle pieces fell into place, each time adding an extra point to the final score. It was mainly the overpowering oppressiveness that initially made Stasis hard to grasp, but made it all the more gripping later. Human nature is not easy, and Hippotraktor makes no attempt to offer any relief. However, they do capture it incredibly well.




Pelagic Records, 2024


  1. Descent
  2. Echoes
  3. Silver Tongue
  4. Renegade
  5. The Indifferent Human Eye
  6. Stasis
  7. The Reckoning


  • Stefan de Graef – Vocals
  • Sander Rom – Guitar, vocals,
  • Chiaran Verheyden – Guitar
  • Jakob Fiszer – Bass guitar
  • Lander de Nyn – Drums