(Andy Synn takes us on another epic journey soundtracked by French Prog-Metal maestros Hypno5e)
There’s every chance that, while you’re reading this article, I’ll be out at the massive Gojira arena show here in Nottingham.
The only reason I mention this is that, for years now, Hypno5e have been (lazily) compared to the Big G, despite the fact that the two bands have little in common apart from their nationality.
In fact, if anything, the two groups have only grown further apart as time has gone by, with Hypno5e opting for the path less-travelled and growing more complex and ambitious with every new album.
Which brings us to Sheol – simultaneously both a sequel and a prequel to A Distant Dark Shore (the two albums forming a closed conceptual cycle) – which finds the band continuing to stretch themselves, and their sound, in ever more compelling, challenging, and unpredictable ways.
To say that Hypno5e are one of the more unique and/or distinct bands out there right now certainly wouldn’t be an exaggeration, with the band using their extraordinary amalgamation of Progressive, Technical, Acoustic, Atmospheric, and Ambient elements to explore – at length (with all but one of their albums breaking the 60 minute mark with ease) – themes of loss, grief, and longing in a style that can best be described as “cinematic”.
That’s not saying there aren’t certain noticeable similarities and touchstones here and there – some of the most twisted and angular riffage recalls the best of Car Bomb, for example, while many of the more melodic and intricate instrumental phrasings are reminiscent of Between the Buried and Me‘s genre-less approach to composition – but there were numerous times when listening to this album that I caught myself wondering “who does this sound like?”… only to realise the answer was, quite simply, Hypno5e themselves.
There’s just something about the way the band not only fuse multiple styles and genres together but do so in a way that no-one else does – willing to pivot, at a moment’s notice, from massive metallic riffs to lengthy ambient excursions, often enhanced by moody voice-overs which serve to enhance the filmic nature of the music, before shifting stance to deliver a cathartic combo of jagged, technical rhythms and ragged, raw-throated howls, juxtaposed against passages of sombre, clean-picked and clean-sung atmosphere (and that’s just “Lands of Haze”) – which sets them apart from the crowd.
The knock-on effect of this, of course, is that it becomes a little more difficult to succinctly sum up who the band’s music is actually for.
Certainly there are elements which will appeal to fans of the proggier and/or technical end(s) of the spectrum – and I’d encourage anyone who fell in love with last year’s spellbinding new album from An Abstract Illusion to check this record out ASAP – but there are also huge swathes of Post-Metal and Post-Hardcore influences and inspirations, which make me think that fans of latter-day The Ocean would also do well to give Sheol a try.
And then, of course, there are the most un-Metal moments which… well, which are just as (if not even more) important to the overall character and flavour of the album, but which might turn off some of the more “conservative” minded listeners out there.
The truth then, I suppose, is that – like always – Sheol is an album written by the band, for the band. It’s them trusting their instincts, driven not by outside expectations but by the demands of their own creative muse.
And it’s up to the rest of us, individually, whether we want to follow them on that journey or not. Because they’re not going to slow down for us if we fall behind.
Tanks Andy! Few growls but some still good feels!
Never heard of this dudes.
This really good!