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The New Normal


Recording: At Moontower, by Marc Schleicher, August 2006
Mastering: At New Alliance East, by Nick Zampiello
Guitar, Vocals: Darryl
Bass, Trumpet, Backing Vocals: Jase
Drums, Backing Vocals: Todd
Songs: By Hackman
Band photos: Pia Schachter
Original cover photos: Darryl
Cover construction: Mike Saputo
Kickstart: JR Roach
Unwavering support: John Pegoraro
Thanks: To you

Reviews for The New Normal...


Chiefly instrumental stoner rock lumber here from a Boston band with roots in Milligram, a hardcore-ish concearn somewhat like Black Flag, if more ornery (and ordinary). Hackman's attitude, however, is purposefully displayed on this debut album via their highly specific heaviness,the type that could have never have truly existed before Kyuss' "Sky Valley". There's no recourse to psychedelia or drone, for example, which is fine save for the fact that if you are going to make an album basically consisting entirely of hard rock riffs, they nead to be REALLY good ones. These don't quite cut it. Try the new 5ive album, which at least has an elasticity and guile about its vocal-free wranglings. For fans of: Kyuss, Scissorfight, 5ive - Noel F Gardner
May, 2008 Issue 109

Cosmic Lava

My first impression after listening to the debut album from HACKMAN was that this three guys must have a big fondess for Karma To Burn. Some of the seven songs have the same structures and most of them are instrumental, but it's obvious that HACKMAN have enough potential to create their own massive blend of riff-centric heavy rock. Especially because this three musicians are no real newcomers. On guitar and vocals it's Darryl Sheppard, who was part of the mighty Milligram as well as Roadsaw, while bassist Jase Forney and drummer Tood Bowman have been in the line-up of Lamont. The routine of their musical experiences is definitely one of the reasons, why 'The New Normal' is totally enjoyable and real good fun. While the first two songs 'Packed Bat' and 'The Anthem' are more in the vein of the already mentioned Karma To Burn' HACKMAN unfold their power with songs like 'You can't ever get what you want' and 'The Chin'. Both songs are heavy rockin' monsters, and whenever I listen to them it's hard for me to stand still. I hear a bit of Milligram and Roadsaw in this songs, although 'The Chin' is also influenced by Karma To Burn's riff-o-rama rock. The fourth track 'I don't need this shit, I played Budokan' is darker and more furious than the previous songs, and one of the very few cuts that include short lyrics. 'Ababac' is the funkiest song of the album and it's a good contrast to the rest of the material. The biggest surprise here is 'Fuck you, I played Altamont', not only because HACKMAN prove once again their sense of humour. It's a relaxed number, where bassist Jase Forney plays trumpet and this song is like the quiet after the storm. This is a promising new band and I can imagine, that they have much more to offer in the future, because this is a good start. -KK
March 1st, 2008

Aural Innovations

Hackman is Guitarist Darryl Sheppard (Roadsaw, Milligram), and a mighty rhythm section that includes bassist Jase Forney and drummer Todd Bowman (Lamont). This is their debut CD full of riff laid rock, a lot like Bolero... Just head's down pure and simple fuzzed out, deep heavy bass lines and the all mightly riff... NO time or not enough energy left for a guitar solo and when you have had about 30 minutes of this the band let you down easy with a nice acoustic track for 6 minutes to end the 37 minute trip, called Hackman... Oh yeah... there is some singing or should I say screaming but it is mostly a destraction from the riff, on this mostly instrumental record. Scott Heller
Aural Innovations #37 - September, 2007

Daredevil Records (Germany)

HACKMAN from Boston are no newcomers, the mighty Darryl Sheppard, ex MILLIGRAM and ROADSAW, formed that band and he did the vocals and guitars on that record. He put together a new band with 2 members from the US Boogie Metal band LAMONT and he released that 90% instrumental record THE NEW NORMAL. The opener PACKED BAT is a great riff monster and the following THE ANTHEM starts with a fuzzy slow guitar riff and the screamed vocals from Darryl blow your mind away! This track is the highlight on that record in my eyes. The mighty slow and heavy CHIN MUSIC features some of the heaviest and best riffs in the tradition of the mighty MILLIGRAM or/and ONLY LIVING WITNESS! Killer!!! Darryl is a mountain of a guitar player in my eyes! He built riffs from hell and the groove of the instrumental tracks is unbelievable. Im not really a fan of instrumental music, but on this record every song is a hit! The following I DON`T NEED THIS SHIT, I PLAYED BUDOKAN is again slow and led by a mighty riff and the vocals from Darryl are rough, heavy and fit perfect! ABABAC is a weaker track, a typical instrumental song and the last one, FUCK YOU, I PLAYED ALTAMONT is a acoustic journey, who give that record a silent ending. Only some more vocals and 1-2 more songs would give that record a higher rating! Good job guys! All you need in this life is better riffs for better days! Music: Riff Rock Sound: 8 Music: 8 Info: 7 Songs / 37 minutes Jochen
July, 2007

Lollipop Magazine

Fuckingsogoddamnexcitedaboutthis I didnt wait for the promo and bought it online offa iTunes. Buck a pop 7 songs, a deal it is. These guys got lineage-from Milligram and Lamont, placing them In Bostons gulping hardrockcore and whoop-ass drunk-speed-rock by the 40 oz. Thats a fine thing. Its also history, and as that quasi-fascist Henry Ford said, history is bunk, so you can ignore it (dummy) and dive deeply into this riff-rock Armageddon. Join me in reveling in the continuation of the slashing deep burn many rock units from Boston have utilized. Yeah, Ill go right ahead and name some; - (Slapshot, Bullet La Volta, Aerosmith, DYS, Were All Gonna Die, Only Living Witness, Stompbox, Moving Targets, Unnatural Axe, Miltown), - you should know'm if your Boston shelf is bigger than your dick piercing. SO, just as it is, easier for a rich man to get his fucking camel through the eye of a needle, than into heaven,* its easy to fail to understand how deft this is. Any retard with access to a Hot Topic, Guitar Center and student loan can be currently Loud; but can they bolt it together to move? NO they cant, and yes this does. Hackman hops in the same earthmover/bulldozer Fu Manchu uses to shove around 70s monster-duh riffs with their Cali-core 80 attack-BUT by those bands mentioned three sentences giving it the proper Boston youre my home feel. Along the way Hackman road trip some groove grease from COC, Karma To Burn/Treasure Cat and the Midwestern, buckle-on-rocks-belt of Black Mt. Creeper (Ahia), Devil To Pay, (Indi-fuckinana) and Burnout (I-to the L-to the noize!) whom all undoubtably abstracted that grease from a lifetime of hearing older brothers play BTOs# not fragile lp. That records ubiquitousness in the Great Lakes Area (area rocks** feeding ground) in the 70s-80s made it free to all girls that would play it even just one time and then smoke pot after that third wine cooler. And as was said, third wine cooler, third bass. It was a better world. So what s the point spread? - 7 down to any final four team. ERGO: It rumbles exactly right, is a bit short for an lp; (cmon you guys could kill so many great covers youd make Gacy look like a piker), ends with a coda throwaway with a cool feeling and goes light on the howling/melody/personality of having a more active singer. Heres hoping these guys keep going and take the bull by the horns and hit the stage now and again. Add to a night of Solace Videos, Cuda, strippers with Alice In Chains tattoos, Fu Manchu, Karma To Burn/Treasure Cat bootlegs, a trip to the Roadburn festival, and mid-period Cathedral. News: http://smallstone.com also gettable thru iTunes. The bible, its in the GODDAMN BIBLE. Page 969, New James Version. The one with pictures. # Bachman Turner Overdrive. Splitting the difference between Mountain/Molly Hatchet/April Wine theyve been positively covered by The Soundtrack Of Out Lives, Spirtual Beggars and Acid King, no doubt many other fine units have followed this lead. **- Nuge, The fuckin;'. Tripp C. Mario
May, 2007

All Music Guide

On their debut effort, 2007's The New Normal, Boston trio Hackman converge their lengthy combined experience in the heavy stoner rock underground into seven acts of worship to the almighty riff. Many of these instrumentals (prime examples being groove-addled opener "Packed Bat," psychedelic tripper "Chin Music," and chord-sequence exercise "Ababac") were obviously hacked out (pun intended) quite spontaneously during band rehearsals, and it's ultimately a combined sense of casual creation and regimented final recording that defines their charms. As with all instrumentals, they demand a slightly more dedicated type of listener than your average pop-consuming Joe or Jane, but fine diners will relish the structural variety of "You Can't Ever Get What You Want" and the uniquely low-key almost jazzy swing of "Fuck You I Played Altamont" (note trumpet contributions from bassist Jase Forney!). When he does finally choose to sing on "The Anthem" and the silly-named but ominous-sounding "I Don't Need this Shit, I Played Budokan," one-time Roadsaw and Milligram man Darryl Sheppard risks no more than a viciously spat growl; making it obvious that these were merely supplementary afterthoughts, and leaving one to wonder why he even bothered. Perhaps that's why, in the end, The New Normal's entire enterprise feels just a tad bit unfinished and thrown together for Hackman to inspire devout fan loyalty; but then not every music fan is looking for a lifetime commitment in every record purchased, right? Eduardo Rivadavia
May, 2007

Penny Black Music (UK)

In an era of three-minute pop-rock sound-bites, Hackman are swimming resolutely against the tide, front-crawling through a haze of pills and dope toward a distant shore that may or may not be a hallucinatory myth. That further shore is a place of dark humour and subtle ironies. Hackman can see it as clear as day, and 'The New Normal' is a sketch thrown back from mid-river, sealed up in an old empty tequila bottle. As far as sonic lineage is concerned, you can trace Hackman back to the progenitor sounds of sludge and stoner rock. They don't write songs, as such; instead, they build huge sprawling jams that sound even longer than they actually are, with heavy doomish riffs meandering and mutating through a mescaline landscape. Desert rock, you could call it. That's an over-used catch-all these days, but Hackman have the sound just right, capturing the stoned-in-a-canyon vibe familiar from the early days of Kyuss and their cohorts. They also bring that moodily tongue-in-cheek attitude to the table. There can be no doubt that these guys love their rock and metal music – how else could they have created such a monument to the unadulterated power of the riff? - but they're quite aware of its inherent contradictions, and are thumbing their nose at rock-star pretensions with song titles like 'The Anthem', and 'I Don't Need This Shit, I Played Budokan'. While the tracks are mostly instrumental, when lyrics are brought into the picture they have a bleak and cynical cast to them. 'The Anthem' features a repeated snarling chant of the phrase “life is not a precious gift”, a sentence with enough pregnancy of meaning to allow a slew of potential interpretations. But interpretation only has so much value, and I'm inclined to believe that's the point Hackman are trying to make. Music is music is music; trying to make too much of it, as tempting as it may be, is not only pointless but self-defeating – especially in heavy metal, which ultimately is all about the deep chug and throb of amped-up guitars. So sit back with a smoke and a beer, and take a trip through 'The New Normal' – don't ask questions, and it'll tell you no lies. Paul Raven
June, 2007

Sleazegrinder Magazine

too-drunk-to-fuck-but-not-too-drunk-to-fuck-up-the-joint sweepstakes. This town* has a lot of em, but this one comes with a pristine pedigree in one Darryl Shepard, guitar-killer extraordinaire in Roadsaw and Milligram, to say nothing of the shit he did back in the 80s. That stuff, you dont even wanna know. Hardcore, brother. Anyway, Darryl has a way of making his guitar spit up chunks of black bile, so I was prepared for World War IV, and believe me, you get it here. Simple, tight, unencumbered by florid bullshit, this is pure jugular sludge-punch, as bleak and mean-spirited as a third-stage alcoholic trudging into a court-ordered rehab. Imagine a perfectly seamless mix of Black Flag-ish hardcore and knives-for-teeth doom rock. This is some tough, gnarly rock n' roll.

*Boston. Lucky me.


The Cutting Edge

Three new monster releases from Small Stone hit the streets this quarter. All are impressively heavy and overtly magnanimous. The first out of the box is the bombastic The New Normal by power-trio Hackman. Claiming to be better riffs for better days, the disc spins with a complex somewhat progressive rotation. A pedigree that includes three elder statesmen of stoner rock makes this all the more exhilarating. Guitarist Darryl Sheppard (Roadsaw, Milligram), and a rhythm section that includes bassist Jase Forney and drummer Todd Bowman (Lamont) bask in fuzzed out, bottom dragging rumbling that nearly runs off the rails in places.

Most of the tracks are instrumental with Sheppards piercing howl permeating The Anthem, one of the few brisk numbers, and the sludgy I Dont Need This Shit, I played Budokan. However, it is the instrumentality of this record that really takes flight. Coming off like a Hendrix-clone Sheppard squeals, bends and torques his guitar in Ababac and the hooky Chin Music both giving bassist Forney lost of room to move about. Opener Packed Bat fuse the Boston three together in a thick melodic soup that can be sonically crushing as well as remarkably memorable. You Cant Even Get What You Want is early eighties Sabbath complete with quick-step riffing and a punishing downbeat. The closing Fuck You, I played Altamont is a complete surprise. A slower desert track, complete with trumpet, takes a progressive ride along the lines of Planet Caravan and spins seductively out of control.

Todd K Smith
May 4th, 2007


The gentlemen of Hackman have a keen understanding of the basic building block of good rock: The riff. The almighty RIFF, for gawdsake! It seems so simple, and yet it must be far harder than it looks, judging from the miserable failures that commonly pass as "rock" in mass culture. Well, you're in good hands with Hackman. The group consists of guitarist and vocalist Darryl Sheppard, a member of both Roadsaw and Milligram. Roadsaw was a crucial part of the '90s "stoner" underground, one that is missed even today, several years after their demise. The good news is that they appeared on volume 2 of 'Sucking the 70s,' and they've got a new album coming out within the next year. Milligram.....their sole long player, 'This is Class War,' gets an incredible amount of love in the stoner/doom community. This is kind of surprising, since it was at heart more hardcore or punk than metal, let alone stoner, so this enthusiasm is a real testament to the album's quality. If that wasn't enough, Hackman's rhythm section consists of Jase Forney on bass, backing vox and trumpet (!), and Todd Bowman on drums, both of boogie metal monsters Lamont. Strains of all of these make their way into 'The New Normal,' which nevertheless has it's own, independent identity.

'The New Normal' is primarily an instrumental album that emphasizes ensemble playing rather than instrumental wankery. What this means is that the riffs better be mighty good, because there's nothing else to hide behind if they're not. Darryl's few vocals, consisting of minimal phrases like "I don't need this shit" and "GO!" are delivered in a razor-gurgling hardcore fashion that acts as an effective percussive counterpoint to the keg beer smoothness of the guitar distortion. 'Packed Bat' leads off the festivities, and it's a perfect example of their hard-driving, riff-centric approach. 'The Anthem' is one of three songs on the album with those sludgey vocals, balanced on some rather left-field, skewed riffing. 'You Can't Ever Get What You Want,' (Rolling Stones, anyone?) sounds like the Ashton brothers jamming out on an unknown 'Fun House-' era b-side with extra left-field embellishment, while 'Chin Music' recalls Lamont and their Motorhead boogie metal inspiration before slipping into an acid-soaked, 70s-style jam. Just when you think you've got something pegged, they pull the rug out from under you, dropping in something unexpected. If there's anything that's consistent with Hackman, it's that.

One thing is sure, though: Even without seeing them, I'm convinced that Hackman absolutely slays live. It's a given. I suppose a national tour that takes these guys out of Massachusetts is out of the question, so I'll have to
console myself with 'The New Normal.' Which will do nicely, 'cause it's as solid as a ton of bricks.

Kevin McHugh
May 2nd, 2007

High Bias

Hackman boasts leadership from former Roadsaw/Milligram axeman Darryl Sheppard. As one might guess from such lineage, the Boston power trio moves easily from grungy power boogie (?ǣPacked Bat,?ǥ ?ǣChin Music?ǥ) to fuzzed-out, spiky skronkfests (?ǣThe Anthem?ǥ), sitting somewhere between the Atomic Bitchwax and Dysrythmia. Sheppard?s incoherent screaming could use some work, but that?s probably why the group?s work is mostly instrumental. In that light, Sheppard?s guitar work is stellar, his melodies are strong and his wry sense of humor (check the dueling anthems ?ǣI Don?t Need This Shit, I Played Budokan?ǥ and ?ǣFuck You, I Played Altamont?ǥ) is a definite plus.

Michael Toland
April 18th, 2007


It seems the good bands are the ones that break up too soon. Take Milligram and Lamont, two Boston groups that lived fast and died young, leaving a meager yet impressive collection of albums to their respective names.

From those two comes Hackman, which replaces neither the hardcore meets metal rage of the former or the heavy shitkicker boogie stomp of the latter. Instead, guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard, bassist Jase Forney, and drummer Todd Bowman aim for the gut with a collection of, as they put it, better riffs for better days. It starts with Packed Bat, an upbeat instrumental (most of the songs are vocal free, and the few that do have lyrics don't get more expressive than Life is not a precious gift or Go!) that has the band locked in one tight groove. The Anthem follows suit, taking the music a little darker and little more off beat. It's the next two songs - You Can't Ever Get What You Want and the mighty Chin Music - that Hackman really lays it all out. One starts slow and ends up fast and the other goes the opposite way, but both highlight what Hackman has to offer great songwriting and even better playing (especially from Forney, who provides some impressive rolling bass lines). "Chin Music" in particular ends on a massively heavy note.

The album dips somewhat with I Don't Need This Shit, I Played Budokan, which has a clever name but gets a bit too repetitive, but Hackman ends the album strongly with the Karma to Burn-worthy Ababac and the moody Fuck You, I Played Altamont. I hope we get to hear a lot more from these guys, but if not, they're going in and out with an amplified bang. Highly recommended.

John Pegoraro
March 25th, 2007

Album Tracks

  1. Packed Bat
  2. The Anthem
  3. You Cant Ever Get What You Want
  4. Chin Music
  5. I Dont Need this Shit, I Played Budokan
  6. Ababac
  7. Fuck You, I Played Altamont

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