Black metal | Post-metal | Sludge metal
Black metal | Post-metal | Sludge metal
Produced by Kim Teglund. Recorded at MAQ Records and Sore Sounds by Kim Teglund. Mixed and mastered by Kim Teglund at Sore Sounds. Original artwork, layout and artistic direction by Evokaos. Released on Brucia Records on Friday 15 September 2022.
For fans of: Cult of Luna, White Ward, Conjurer, Downfall of Gaia
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Formed in 2012, Voyance is Polish blackened post-metal band Hegemone’s third full-length album.
Voyance is an ambitious work, as the press release states, “shaping their already bleak and oppressive sound into something even more grandiose, desperate and terrifying.” There is an epicness to this album, like the awe when stepping into an enormous cathedral or marvelling at the vastness of the mines of Moria.
Their sound conjures a sense of suffering and calamity. In spite of the cold riffs and electronic frequencies, there is a humanity to this work—it is both powerful and fragile, mixing heavy electric sounds with folk instruments. This is the soundtrack to the day that you don’t want.
Musically, Hegemone’s building blocks appear to be a combination of the heaviness of sludge, the savagery of hardcore, the barked vocals of metalcore, the darkness of black metal, and the introspection of shoegaze. Like some great-grandchild that has 16, Biohazard, Diabolical Masquerade, Jesu and Russian Circles in their family tree.
The album opens with the almost zombie-like screams of the brutally heavy “Nourishment” (track 1). It is slow and ponderous, like Jesu-meets-Godflesh, switching between tortured grunts and funereal, chiming notes picked on guitar. A doom-filled middle section gives way to a slow crashing dirge that builds to the close—screams, percussive, frantic. It is a bleak sonic landscape that Hegemone paints, but oh! what an opening track.
“Solace” (track 2) takes a completely different path, through a minute-long ghostly, haunting melody before exploding into a repetititve metalcore style riff and barked vocals. Gone is the epic journey of the opening track in favour of a more straight-forward all-out barage.
“Odium” (track 3) has a Meshuggah-like feel with unexpected changes of direction and off-beats. The song really comes into its own though when it hits halfway and branches off into a ringing, clockwork-like riff that reminded me of Russian Circles where the repetitive groove takes slight detours before rejoining the path. While the song feels like two very different tracks fused together, it’s only when playing this song again immediately afterwards that you begin to hear the roots of that final, looped riff. Clever stuff here.
Another slow, atmospheric opening for “Sermon” (track 4), the longest track on the album, with shouted vocals gradually introducing the rest of the band in a dirge that eventually gathers pace before crashing down into majestic chords and wide, mournful sounds that die to an almost cathedral-like organ ambience and electronic noises.
“Abeyance” (track 5) kicks in straight away with a chiming riff and crashing percussion that soon gallops off into the distance, morphing into a slightly sour-sounding and rumbling, ambient soundscape.
By this point, there are few surprises. “Inference” (track 6) begins with a quiet, haunting melody that morphs into a wall of noise, a thundering riff with bell-like notes picked out on guitar that carries the song to its conclusion. And final track “After Demise” (track 7) begins in a similar vein—ghostly sounds that are interrupted by an erupting wall of riffs, shouted vocals and pounding drums, floating effortlessly between noise and ambience, but always epic in its vision.
I’ve said before on this blog that I’m not a great fan of the more monotonous shouted vocals that many metalcore and post-metal bands use. They certainly add to the timbre of the music, another layer of texture. I felt there were parts of some songs where a change of vocal technique could have lifted the song to new levels (or depths, depending on your perspective)—think how Mikael Åkerfeldt uses his vocals on the earlier Opeth tracks, moving between clean and growling vocals. But hey! That’s just a difference of taste. Like arguing whether jafrezi is better than balti. (It is.)
“A unique sonic nightmare” said the press release. “A titanically heavy album, building a monumental and uncompromising architecture of rage, tension, disquiet and pain.” I can’t disagree with either of these statements. This is without a doubt an ambitious release. That it is performed by only four people is extraordinary given the orchestra of sounds they produce.
An ambitious, bleak, but overwhelmingly enjoyable album.
Review score: 80%
Anubi Press contacted me inviting me to preview Hegemone forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Anubi Press or Hegemone. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Luca from Anubi Press, and to Hegemone for continuing to create fresh, exciting music.