Thursday, 17 November 2016

Review: Hieroglyph 'Ouroboros'

Progressive Metal six piece Hieroglyph blend mellow vocal lines with heavy metal riffs and motifs in a gorgeous cauldron of mystical fresh Metal.

Their debut album Ouroboros is set to release this November and is a concept album centred on the theme of rising consciousness in Tarot cards. The idea being that the audience will be taken upon a sort of spiritually metal journey from card one ‘The Fool’ to the last card ‘The Magician’.

The first track ‘Solar (The Fool)’ is a stream of ridiculously heavy riffs hidden behind a line of hearty vocals and powerful solo guitar work that for the most part blend in a simultaneous raft of beauty. The mix is so well done that every time you go back and listen you hear a new layer of depth.

The next track ‘Samsara (The Wheel of Fortune) showcases a bit more of that classic ‘core’ aspect to metal, punchy triplets and powerful screaming open the track with some inherently mathematic riffs and bends, that pull you in for the ride before that Hieroglyph ambient charm takes again for the choruses. At this point I must point out that this band is so fresh, it’s a must listen for 2016.

The sporadic riffs again make a comeback for ‘Enochian (The Hermit) and quickly become a main feature of the song and everything else in the mix on first listen takes a seat as you try to follow every little detail and fail. Which is an amazing trait for this band to have, it’s like that movie you love, that every time you watch it you notice something new you didn’t in prior viewings. The Breakdown here reminds me of Periphery and I hope the artists take no offence but the riffs are ‘djent-y’ but not in that way that removes talent, how Periphery handle things, that sort of contemporary tone with skilful well planned out riffs.

‘Rise and Fall (Strength)’ slinks along powered by Parkway Drive styled riffs and beautifully blended vocals and ambient sections. The percussion here shines brightly every little accent and fill is so gorgeously executed. The clean vocal lines steal a little of that light breaking into high powerful held notes, before ending in an ambient block of sound.

This sound continues into the next track ‘Jopari (The Chariot)’ that opens with a destructively powerful breakdown, this is the track that feels most identical to a classic ‘core’ Metal track, but again with that little edge the band bring to the affair, in the form of none boring binary riffs and a different clean vocalist entirely, bringing a fresh dimension. But the screamed sections really steal the show, until the Female vocalist blasts back with a manic section, which finally resolves into more power.

The sporadic nature returns again also for a very chillingly weird section, clearly depicting the nature of the mind. And may I add done very well, often concept albums fall short of the mark and it is clear that every detail has been well thought out and executed.

‘Mandragora/Lunar (The Lovers)’ begins with a symphonic overtone which is clearly used to emphasize the theme. Both Female and Male vocalist pair up for a unsettling duet for the first minute or so, representative of a sort of Danny Elfman piece, like that of Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It then moves into a heavy screaming section before returning to a Hieroglyph styled chorus section with the female vocalist only. The song as a whole is very chilling and mystical, definitely achieving its intent and is a wondrous thing to listen to.

The next track has that classic speed Periphery riff that blows your mind in two, and I love it. The guitarists really outdone their selves here and on the whole album in fact, their talent is immaculate. The vocals are hearty and you feel every word, still keeping that fresh, freakish tone they have beautifully paired with Metal.

‘The Butterfly (The Emperor)’ begins with a glorious 8 bit styled percussion section that quickly sets the foundation for the rhythm of the song. The rhythm is the centre of attention here which emphasizes the theme so well. Again the riffs are quite something to behold, and the lyricism as you can expect are well thought-out and performed with precision, the icing on the cake here is the time signature changes that are so subtle and amazing.

‘Sapphire (The Empress)’ as you can expect is a more elegant Metal track and celebrates the femininity with obviously the Female vocalist shining above the track and also with beautifully precise riffs and percussion. It’s an excellent blend of hearty vocals and powerful metal.

‘Starlight (The High Priestess)’ is the penultimate track on the album and is a showcase of beautiful vocals and technique with great lyricism. The instrumentation is an extension of amazing talent that the band have presented throughout the album, from slow ballad sections, to fast blast beat thrilling metal sections all in keeping with the theme and keeping that Hieroglyph charm. It also demonstrates the theme perfectly of being on the edge of ‘enlightenment’ as a cataclysmic metal experience.

The final track on the album and title track is ‘Ouroboros (The Magician)’ and at almost fourteen minutes long is a monolith of instrumentation. The quantity as throughout the album does not out shine the quality though, as always it’s freakishly mystical and keeps you interested. Each layer you peel you find another little riff of accent that extends the engagement with their music, it’s an amazing ending track and end to the masterpiece that is Ouroboros as a whole. All I can say is check it out and prepare your mind and heart for the journey.

As an album; 'Ouroboros' is a perfect blend of weird and beautiful moments, bringing a fresh mix of Metal that the genre is crying out for. This band deserve to be big.

Score: 8/10 


Fuel Rock Club

Fuel Rock Club
Cardiff's Only Dedicated Rock & Metal Bar and Club