Hypermass, Empyrean (2022)

Progressive death metal band Hypermass release their debut full-length album, Empyrean.

Formed ten years ago in Norway, Hypermass issued a demo in 2013 called Into Oblivion, then the EP Clouded Visions a couple years later. Since 2015 they have been rather quiet on the recording front, raising expectations for their first long-player, Empyrean. Playing progressive death metal that is loaded with grooves, hooks, and technical proficiency, they exist on their own self-constructed plane. The band is Markus Sundet (vocals), Thomas Pedersen (guitar), Sindre Dagestad (guitar), and Martin Nordvik (bass). Torgeir Aambø did the drum work on the new recording.

There are nine tracks on the album, starting with a short on ramp, “The Constant.” “Hivemind” is the first detailed glimpse into the universe of the set and it walks you around the expansive neighborhood, offering clues to the keys to the coming compositions. The hammer drops and the prog breaks out and it is more like a festival than a chemistry class. That is the hallmark of Hypermass – they confident enough in their own ideas that they do not try to fit in anyone else’s mold.

There is a plethora of looks on the album. The grisly “The Degenerate Strain” has its own approachability despite its sharp edges. Watch out for the ripping lead guitar that springs to life unexpectedly. “Null and Void” has the fully formed heaviness, too, that is somehow carried on a musical anti-gravity mechanism that allows it to move toward wherever you are at the time you hear it. It is almost mystical the way it works.

The title track comes near the end of the record and it is an achievement. Whether the sky is coming down or we are rising to meet it the journey is multifaceted and absolutely fascinating. The guitar on this song shines again, and the coarse vocals remind us that existence is multidimensional. Excellent throughout, and recommended.

Empyrean is out now. Bandcamp is a quick place to hear it – at the link below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hypermass.bandcamp.com/album/empyrean

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHw3woqZYJMR4AN9Yf02jRQ

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/hypermassmetal

© Wayne Edwards

Hypermass, Empyrean (2022)

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

French progressive doom band Epitaphe head off into new territory with their sophomore long-player, II.

Epitaphe began as far back as 2009. They released a demo in 2018, and their debut full-length album the following year, appropriately titled I. The musical style has elements of progressive death metal and funeral doom, usually rolled out in long movements. The first album had more of the latter, while this new one relies less on funeral doom. There is no mistaking that it is the same band, however, and the fans they have gathered so far will be grandly fulfilled by the new music.

There are three tracks that hover around the nineteen minute mark, plus an introductory movement and an outro. “Sycomore” begins the session sweetly, leaving you completely unprepared for the full-on assault that is “Celestial.” The ravaging brutality of this blistering metal affront is complicated by melodic vocals that materialize only to be devour by course growls. There are reinforced shocks throughout and, eventually, you can sense that disruptions are in the offing but they always still startle you when they hit.

“Melancholia” dives in with percussive creations that are tectonic, elemental. The compositional structure flattens out at times, allowing familiarity to lull you toward the ordinary, but it never stays that way long enough to give a firm footing. You only think you know what is next. This middle portion is my favorite of the set, and I especially appreciate the lead guitar work and, later, the funeral doom.

“Insignificant” recalls the intro piece with its initial gentleness, like a minstrel who has wandered into a dark, sinister forest and only slowly begins to realize what has happened. The metal here has a theatrical feel to it, and a sense of story is strong throughout. “Merging Within Nothingness” is a short cooldown. How you feel about it will depend on how you experienced the rest of the album. For me, I had a moment to realize, at least partially, the significance of what I had just listened to.

There is an arc here. Listening from beginning to end is more important with this album than with many. The full procession is the way to go. Highly recommended.

II is out on April 11th in digital, on CD through Aesthetic Death, and Gurgling Gore has the cassette.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://epitaphe.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/epitaphemetal/

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Gurgling Gore, https://www.gurglinggore.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Godless Truth, Godless Truth (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Godless Truth hits back hard after an extended hiatus with a new, self-titled album.

The five-piece death metal band from Czechia is the latest incarnation of a group that has a long history. With roots in the mid-nineties, and through schisms and a pause here and there, the band has produced four previous albums, an EP, and several splits. The music is a stunning form of death metal that stands well apart from the pack. The band is Petr Švancara (guitar), Ondřej Černobila (guitar), Jakub Grunt (bass), Petr Mikeš (drums), and Adam B. Sychrow (vocals). There are many notable guest musicians as well, including Rafael Trujillo, Joe Haley, Petr Angelo Čuka, Peter Gábor, and Matt Delirious.

The record contains two short, connective tissue pieces and eight primary tracks. “The Decision” is surrounded on both sides by the short tracks, and it is bestial. The signs do point toward technical death metal, but, more specifically, the guitar work in the second half is a crushing sort of prog. It is the kind of thing you might expect from, say, Vai, if he were to write death metal music. It zips you right up.

“Scissors” continues the slanted view and the ground does indeed tilt beneath you while you listen. Alternating vocal styles swirl depth into the landscape and menace your understanding of the reality that surrounds you. The speed of the percussion is difficult to comprehend. This song gets all over you, and so does the next one, “Breathe Fire,” and the one after that, and so on. Don’t expect to have any adrenaline left in the tank when the music stops.

“Bred In Greed” is one of my favorite tracks – the opening rhythm kills. And the closer, too, “Wake Up To Obey,” has staying power. I could listen to these guitars all day, and the songwriting keeps fresh images rolling over your ears for the duration. High marks all around. Recommended.

Godless Truth comes out on Friday, March 4th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://godlesstruth.bandcamp.com/album/godless-truth

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/godlesstruthofficial

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Godless Truth, Godless Truth (Transcending Obscurity 2022)