Oct 272023

The Australian band Hebephrenique chose a name that may contort the part of your brain responsible for making sense of letters and checking new words into the vocabulary library. We’ll make it easier, since we’ve already done a bit of research:

Hebephrenique seems to be the French word (without accent marks) for hebephrenic, which refers to a “disorganized” type of schizophrenia, one “typified by shallow and inappropriate emotional responses, foolish or bizarre behaviour, false beliefs (delusions), and false perceptions (hallucinations).” So says this source.

That this is what the band had in mind when they chose their name is guesswork on our part, but their debut EP Non Compos Mentis provides circumstantial evidence that we’re on the right track.

The EP will be released on October 31st by Gutter Prince Cabal in cooperation with Brilliant Emperor. In introducing it, the two labels pose this question: “Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if Gorguts‘ unorthodox death metal sound was mixed with the full-throated and violent black metal of Mayhem? If you have, you probably share the same degree of lunacy as this Australian duo….” They also allege that “the duo display a knack for songwriting that can easily hurt, disorient and surprise.”

You’ll now have your own chance to validate or resist these descriptions because we’re streaming all of Non Compos Mentis below. From our perspective, those descriptions hit some nails on the head.

The EP opener “An Insane Cacophony” provides an experience that explains the song name. Though it must be said that the ecstatically pulsing guitar riff that opens the song and rears its head again is damn catchy, the track is also authentically insane.

The music riotously twists and turns while the vocalist screams like a madman. The drums inhumanly blast and the bass thunders, but they also suddenly maneuver off in many unexpected directions and come to sudden stops. Similarly, the guitars unpredictably wail and blare, dart and convulse, and ring like the aural equivalent of hallucinatory vapors, the frenetic violence giving way to dismal dreams.

Insane it is, as Yoda would say, but also dazzling, so much so that we hope you will hope the other four songs are equally kaleidoscopic — and they are.

As the EP moves forward, Hebephrenique continue their crazed roller-coaster ride. Grand chords, jet-propelled drumwork, and unhinged vocals launch “The Curse of Biology”, but the song also suddenly diverts into a collage of strange glimmering tones, slowly moaning bass notes, and bursts of percussive mania — and then becomes even more ominously hallucinatory and frighteningly frenzied. (There’s also a jackhammering riff in the mix for those who want to get their heads moving as well as spinning, providing the foundation for a delirious guitar solo.)

Two songs in, and you’ll figure out that Hebephrenique‘s interests extend beyond dissonant death metal and savage black metal. There’s a highly elaborate and theatrical quality to their mutations, even if it’s a theater of the absurd, or the theater of diabolical carnivals set in hellish asylums.

And where the EP goes from there is no more predictable than where it has already gone. Shorn of rhythms and grooves, the otherworldly collage of wailing sounds that make up “Waking” (which include the chilling tones of classical strings) don’t sound like anything has awakened, but instead like someone or some thing is still dreaming a very dark dream, lost in the depths of misery and grief.

Well, despite the prevalence of the unexpected you might now expect after that interlude that the band will again ramp up the volume and the lunatic splendors, and so they do on “Homicidal Ambivalence”, but of course it’s as labyrinthine as the EP’s opening two tracks. It will get hearts pounding and minds spinning. It jolts spines, bounces like a marionette, convulses in ruinous spasms, and weirdly weaves about in overmedicated wonder while the bass viciously chews through bedrock.

That leaves the title track, and though by now it hardly seems possible, that song might be the most deliriously… schizophrenic… of all. It’s a full-blown riot, but also an affecting portrayal of sadness, despair, and loneliness that becomes heartbreakingly beautiful — and provides one more vivid reminder about how insanely inventive this duo are, and how berserk the vocals are. (Pay attention to the spoken words at the end.)

Unquestionably, Non Compos Mentis is bizarre, as unpredictable in its stylistic maneuvers and mood changes as it is in its non-stop instrumental permutations and peregrinations. It’s also one of the most fascinating and engrossing records we’ve heard this year, and it marks the advent of a remarkable new talent that we hope will return with more madness soon.



The EP will be released on CD, vinyl, and digital formats, and you can explore the pre-order options via the links below.






  1. This is brilliant. Thanks for sharing. Love the name. Schizophrenia is a fascinating topic. For me, especially, as my uncle had it and died in a delusional fit that sent him running through a blizzard to freeze.

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