March 2, 2012

Review: Hermina-Synthetic

Progressive Metal, to me, is really an umbrella term for bands that write music that doesn’t quite fit any other label for it. It seems like any kind of weird metal gets labeled as progressive, whether or not it fits the true definition, if such a thing exists. 

Hemina is one of those bands that doesn’t naturally fit, but then again, they kind of do. They don’t include too many impossible time signatures, super–fast jam sessions that last twenty minutes, or chord progressions that have Igor Stravinsky written all over them. But the songs are usually quite lengthy (an unwritten requirement for prog metal), the guitars sound very metallic indeed, and there’s a little bit of oddness in each song. It’s still progressive metal, just not the kind I’m used to listening to.

Normally, I wouldn’t listen to an album like Synthetic more than once, because I wouldn’t fall in love with it. But what Hemina do on Synthetic is more than good enough to keep it around. It’s a concept album about an angel born on earth, forced to live here and deal with human issues. So, the topic may not be the most brilliant idea, but that’s okay; the music handily makes up for it. 

“This Hour Of Ours” opens the album quietly at first, but builds to the next track, “To Conceive a Plan.” Here’s where it gets more metallic, but there’s plenty of melody to go around as well. It sets the benchmark for the other tracks to follow, and they do. “And Now To Find A Friend” sounds more like Dream Theater, with the riff runs in odd times and groupings, but keeps melody in tandem with the complexities. “Even in Heaven” is very harsh. But the one track that stole the show for me was “Haunting Me!” It’s got a metallic brutality to it, but the melody it’s coupled with is easily the prettiest on the entire album. The choral synth sound at the end of it is simply gorgeous. It’s the farthest thing from inaccessible music, which I tend to like, but this is so pretty I can’t help but like it. “Divine” closes the album and is a thirteen–minute epic.

Australia’s Hemina have created something excellent. All the musicians are very apt at what they do. This album may not be every progressive metal fan’s cup of tea, that is, if the progressive metal you like is dominated by technicality. But there's enough good material here that most–if not all–prog metal listeners should have it on their radar.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: To Conceive A Plan, Even In Heaven, Haunting Me!

Daniel Erickson

March 1, 2012



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