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Hypno5e - Sheol review

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Band: Hypno5e
Album: Sheol
Release date: February 2023

01. Sheol - Part I - Nowhere
02. Sheol - Part II - Lands Of Haze
03. Bone Dust
04. Tauca - Part I - Another
05. Lava From The Sky
06. The Dreamer And His Dream
07. Slow Steams Of Darkness - Part I - Milluni
08. Slow Steams Of Darkness - Part II - Solar Mist

It’s been over a decade since we last reviewed a Hypno5e record on Metal Storm. It’s certainly not been for a lack of review-worthy material, as the French ensemble have continued to impress across the years since, but if any of their recent albums have deserved to have the spotlight on them, it’s Sheol.

On a base level of appreciation, the Hypno5e formula has remained broadly stable since Acid Mist Tomorrow; their records are reliably long and complex, both musically and conceptually (the subtitles that most songs have probably gives that away), offering an elaborate mesh of polyrhythmic djent, emotional prog, and atmospheric contemplation. However, each passing record has seen refinements and developments of this fundamental approach, building up to 2019’s thoroughly impressive A Distant (Dark) Source, a record the group further explored in the live setting during lockdown with A Distant Dark Source Experience. Sheol, inspired by the biblical meeting place of souls, acts as a thematic continuation of A Distant (Dark) Source, but also serves as a further advancement of Hypno5e’s audiocinematic ambitions.

Sheol comes out not long after The World Is Quiet Here’s Zon, another djenty album crammed with ideas and with a wide-ranging vision. I found Zon to be slightly overwhelming in an almost detrimental manner; however, while Sheol is an intimidating record to try and summarize in a non-excessive number of words due to the breadth of its contents, it’s one that feels far easier to approach and appreciate. There’s a lot of dynamic peaks and troughs across this album, which allow the intense djent/prog-metalcore passages to individually make a stronger impression. Hypno5e have joined Pelagic Records in recent years, and Sheol has the kind of expansiveness that one expects from artists on that label; that capacity to meander between loud and soft, and between overwhelmingly complex and subtly contemplative really has a synergistic effect on all aspects of the album.

There’s 8 tracks on Sheol, but 4 of them are 2 two-parters; “Part I” in each instance is quiet and contemplative, offering time to think before “Part II” unleashes fury. Each “Part II” is over 10 minutes, and with 3 of the other 4 tracks over 8 minutes long, these are long, wide-ranging tracks. The first song heard on the album is the title track; “Land Of Haze” marks the transition from “Late Sorrow” with some vulgar djent polyrhythms, but also dedicates significant portions of its runtime to tranquil lulls, during with Emmanuel Jessua’s clean vocal ability is shown to be as solid as his screams. The extended passage later on, with impressively busy and technical drumming combined with lush clean guitar soundscapes, works particularly nicely, as does the impeccable transition into a heavier, more brooding passage.

This closing passage shows that the heaviness of Hypno5e does not rely entirely on deep, crunchy grooves, and “Bone Dust” shows this further; while the first louder passage in this song has technical rhythms, it’s the Gojira-esque tapping and regular pounding drum patterns that dominate, while later on there’s a bleak tremolo-dominated passage imbued with plenty of morose atmosphere. Still, when the band want to deliver some hench, complex riffing in this song after a long period of ominous contemplation, damn does it hit hard. Hypno5e are consistently emphatic and engaging when they bring the volume, I’d say more consistently so than on earlier records; whether delivering caveman stomping or laserspeed strumming, “Lava In The Sky” is excellent, as is the colossal, voidlike chasm of noise created by the group in “The Dreamer And The Dream”.

Given the band work so well when reveling in heaviness, the success of Sheol then depends on how effective they are as a clean band. For some people, it’s possible that Hypno5e may dwell slightly too long in these passages, particularly when the 5-minute all-acoustic “Tauca - Part I - Another” is immediately followed by a prolonged soft ambient/acoustic introduction to “Lava From The Sky”. Ultimately, I do find the soft passages to be pleasant, but I find them most interesting when they’re morphing into heavier moments; just like the transition in “Sheol - Part II”, the way that the acoustic introduction of “Lava From The Sky” evolves within a 30-second window until distortion and screams are let loose is captivating, and the balancing of the soft clean singing (including backing female voices), strings, busy percussion, and slowly intensifying guitar in a period later in the same track is again thoroughly compelling. In contrast, the tranquil singing, delicate acoustics and accentuating surrounding sounds in “The Dreamer And His Dream” keep me engaged independent of where the band is going. To be honest, the only moments on Sheol that I’m not particularly keen on are those featuring the sung motif that repeats across the two-part “Slow Steams Of Darkness”; I just don’t find it to be a particularly satisfying vocal refrain.

On the whole, though, Sheol is a very strong effort from Hypno5e. They’ve historically been a band that I listen to once or twice when a record comes out, find myself impressed with the contents of the album, but don’t give further time to. In contrast, this is the first record of those that I can see myself continuing to revisit going forward; there’s a lot here to digest to reward relistens, and the contents are consistently enticing. If you’ve not tried Hypno5e before this point, Sheol is the perfect record with which to acquaint yourself with them.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Written on 23.02.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 2   Visited by: 23 users
26.02.2023 - 22:57

Ohhh friggin a', man! Looking forward to listening to this one! It's been awhile.
That rug really tied the room together, did it not?
Today - 14:57
Rating: 8

Love the troughs and the peaks. Love the gojiraesque drums. Found them to be very good, very leprous alike.
Leeches everywhere.

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