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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Reviews: Hypno5e, Seven Kingdoms, Metal De Facto, Devil Rolling Dice (Paul S,Rich & Matt)

Hypno5e: A Distant (Dark) Source (Pelagic Records) [Paul Scoble]

French band Hypno5e have been in existence since 2003. The four piece based in Montpellier have made four albums before A Distant (Dark) Force, the last one being 2018’s film soundtrack Alba - Les Ombres Arrantes. The band play progressive metal, but these days that label covers a lot of ground; so let's be a bit more accurate: Hypno5e play a very Djent and Meshuggah influenced brand of Progressive Metal. The band also refer to their style as ‘Cinematic’ progressive metal. Although there isn’t anything on this album that sounds like the soundtrack to Lawrence Of Arabia, or Out Of Africa. There are samples of voices talking, which have a definite cinematic feel to them, very French New Wave, I can almost smell the Gauloise! These samples do add to the songs, they aren’t just tacked on, I wished I had tried harder in French lessons at school so I could tell you what they all mean, I feel like I might have missed out on a great story. If you are french, or can speak french, then you will probably get a little more out of the album than I did, maybe you could contact the blog with a story synopsis?

The structure of the album is quite complex. We get 11 tracks, the opening and closing tracks are stand alone songs (On The Dry Lake & Tauca - Part II (Nowhere)), but the other 9 are 3, 3 part songs named In The Blue Glow Of Dawn Parts I, II & III, A Distant Dark Source Parts I, II & III and On Our Bed Of Soil I, II & III. Most the tracks are a mix of very rhythmic and choppy Djent riffing, with some genuinely beautiful softer sections that have clean guitar and vocals that are smooth and deeply melodic, there is a shimmery quality to these softer parts. Sometimes the riffing falls into fairly simple chugging on one note style djent, which is unfortunate, but a lot of the heavier riffs have more complexity than this regressive, simplistic Meshuggah worship. A Distant Dark Source Part I and On Our Bed Of Soil I are purely soft and beautiful.

If I’m being totally honest I’m more of a fan of the Enslaved/Opeth style of progressive metal, rather than this Djent and Meshuggah influenced style. I’m a fan of melody rather than rhythmic dynamics; but this is not Hypno5e’s fault. So, some of this isn’t to my taste, however I would be being remiss if I criticised this for simply being a different style to what I’m a fan of. For example I’m not that keen on the harsh vocals, they are a little to emotional, maybe a little too like Metalcore; but if you like vocals like that, then you’ll love this (The clean vocals are to my taste, and they are very good!). Again, I’m not that keen on one note chugging, but most of the riffs have more complexity than that, and I’ve quite enjoyed them, which is a very good sign if you are a djent fan. A Distant (Dark) Source is a very good album, I’ve enjoyed listening to it, and that is a big compliment, as I’ve discussed. If you are into Meshuggah and Djent then this is an album you should dive into, you’ll find a lot to enjoy. I have to be honest in the mark I give this album, but if you’re a fan of this sort of thing, then you could probably add a point or two. 7/10

Seven Kingdoms: Empty Eyes EP (Self Released) [Rich Oliver]

Empty Eyes is the new EP from US metallers Seven Kingdoms. Not a band I am familiar with but Seven Kingdoms have four albums under their belt and have toured with some very prolific bands. From reading about the band they are described as having a power metal sound with heavy influences from thrash so this EP must be a bit of a departure as this is a straightforward heavy metal sound with some leanings towards power metal. The songs are all slow to mid paced and whilst melodic never really take off and go anywhere but all whilst showing promise whilst to be ultimately isn’t delivered. The opening title track has too slow of a tempo to muster much enthusiasm, Monster whilst mid paced does have enough of a catchy melody to hold some interest whilst The Water Dance kicks up the tempo a little bit with its power metal gallop before things slow right down for the snoozefest Valonqar which leans of the ballad side of things but without going anywhere or doing anything. The EP closes off with a fairly redundant cover of Heart’s classic Barracuda. The band put in decent performances despite the lacklustre material they are working with and singer Sabrina Valentine has a fine voice at times sounding very reminiscent of Simone Simmons from Epica. This EP was a disappointment as whilst reading up on the band I had read many promising things but this release ultimately just does not deliver. 5/10 

Metal De Facto: Imperium Romanum (Rockshots Records) [Matt Bladen]

Now this is more like it! Formed by Esa Orjatsalo (ex-Dreamtale) and Sami Hinkka (Ensiferum), Metal De Facto has been formed to "Make Power Metal Great Again" this Finnish act have brought the bombast back to power metal definitely with this Roman themed album. Now Roman's have been done by a few bands (Ex Deo for example) but the fanciful, extravagant sometimes unbelievable nature of Roman history makes it prime content for power metal bands. There's war, political strife, betrayal and even a lot of sex/romance, it's full of heroes and villains (sometimes one and the same) and for many it's a very popular part of history. Now this album is a concept record based around the Roman Empire (thus Imperium Romanum - Latin Ed) dealing with the ideologies, stories, culture and mythology of one of the largest Empires in history.

From the total loyalty of the soldiers on Legionnaires Oath, the sheer debauchery of Bacchanalia (which sounds like Helloween), the pomp and drama of the Colosseum (which admittedly is an instrumental) and of course the murder of Caesar on Ides Of March. These are all delivered in a no  nonsense power metal style with galloping riffs, widdly solos and soaring vocals that just bring a goofy grin to your face (bigger for me due to the lyrical content). Now I mentioned Ex Deo earlier who are probably the leaders in 'Roman Metal' so it's only fitting that their singer/mastermind Maurizio Iacono provides the spoken word for the finale of Germanicus, the epic tale of a prominent Roman general. Imperium Romanum is a brilliant first shot by Metal De Facto, slick keys, swelling orchestral backing, powerful vocals, thundering rhythms and some nifty guitar work.

It's bloody silly but so entertaining dammit! I'd put this in the same category as Helloween, it doesn't take itself too seriously and is all the better for that. Now if they could follow it up with a full metal opera about Caligula that would possibly push me over the edge into euphoria. 9/10

Devil Rolling Dice: The Catastrophic Sequence (Self Released) [Rich Oliver]

The Catastrophic Sequence is the debut album from Greek thrashers Devil Rolling Dice. With this album Devil Rolling Dice have recorded just over an hour of stomping mid paced thrash metal which varies little throughout its duration. As an avid thrash metal maniac I’m very particular about my thrash metal and The Catastrophic Sequence unfortunately did very little for me. One of the overriding factors for thrash metal is the speed and Devil Rolling Dice very rarely venture from a mid paced chug which means virtually every song sounds identical or at least extremely similar. The band do kick up the tempo in a couple of songs opener Prison Dead and closer Judas Paradox have a bit of speed and velocity to them but everything else in between those two songs is pretty much monotony. The band play as a tight unit and frontman Dimitris Stathopoulos has a bark similar in style to Max Cavalera but the material recorded just sent me on a one way journey to boredomville. Thrash is meant to be fast, vibrant and exciting but The Catastrophic Sequence is a catastrophic failure in how to do thrash metal. 3/10

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