Eight albums in, still firing on all cylinders



starts unlike any Shihad album has before. Yes, they've come up with long songs before in their 22 years together but

The Final Year of the Universe

, a lurching and melodic six-minute plus chugger, acts as a staunch strainer post at the start of their eighth album. It's heavy, solid, and builds expectation. It lets you know you're in for something different from

Beautiful Machine

, which was softer and heavier on the synth.

That album was the band's most lightweight and inviting since the bouncier moments of the


album - and


fires Shihad up again. Not that it's pummelling and abrasive like 90s classics



Gimme Gimme

, although

I'm A Void

(a relentless and arcing beast),



Dark Star

) (a trashy and punky track similar in mood to 2005's

Love Is the New Hate

), and

The Final Year of the Universe

(whose working title was, rather fittingly,

Massive Sabbath

) give it a fair nudge.

It's no wonder the band felt inspired to play the



The General Electric

shows recently, as the overall dynamic here is heavy and harrowing, while still reeling off catchy, and often intricate nail bomb riffs.

Even the two singles,


, with its head-nodding floppy-fringe beat, and the more mangled and electric groove of

Lead Or Follow

(about frontman Jon Toogood's problems with procrastinating), have one foot planted in the mongrel position and the other in a melodic and soulful stance.

Elsewhere, the title track is a lilting and dreamy soul-searcher, then there's the more frenetic


, with its synthesiser drones and high beams, and last track

Cold Heart

is part stomper, part exotic, searing rocker, which finds Toogood in fine lecturing form with the line, "I wish I had the time you waste".

The thing is, now that the band have risen to the lofty heights of winning the

New Zealand Herald

Legacy Award, and being inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, we might just have to start listening to that lippy and cheeky Toogood.

One thing's for sure,


proves that the award - and a place in the hallowed musical halls - is well deserved because no other New Zealand band (or many international bands, for that matter) make mainstream rock quite so heavy and potent as Shihad.