15 Sep 2022 - Knut
Atmospheric Sludge Metal/Post Metal/Dark Wave | Brucia Records | Release date: 15 Sep 2022
A roar of anger lifts the new album from Poznan´s Hegemone off the ground and thus might be a comment when we watch the world slipping sideways these days. Although this might be an exaggerational over-interpretation as the album has a lot more to say, both with the ideas behind it and not at least because of the monumental and inventive music that surges from it.
Post-related music, be it metal, rock or hardcore defy genre boundaries as they are there to be pushed. When inventive and visionary bands of the genre like Hegemone are doing so, they detonate an album with wide ranging heavy sonics that might set a new standard for this kind of music. If you look beyond the likes Cult of Luna, Amenra and Altar of Plagues you will find Hegemone transcend any borders that might have been there.
After the first roar on ”Nourishment” the song shifts into long floating distorted riffs where the bass and drums hold the song´s pace. The sounds slowly spread outwards like an opaque smokescreen carrying screaming vocals. The decelerated riffing forms a melodic theme with a grooving bass underneath. The broad soundscape is stopped by the bass and a blanket of synths softly falls onto the sonics accompanied by the drums. It is then lifted by towering guitars and soaring growling showing the range of the vocalist. A song like this makes me remember a quote by Mary Wollstonecraft written during a journey through Scandinavia in the 18th century: “Our very soul expands, and we forget our littleness”. Maybe “nourishment” is a metaphor for that.
There is a lose concept behind the album and the lyrics, in fact an existentialist one: “Has god created us, or we created god as a religion because of fear of death? If god created us does it mean that our fate is known and it can be predicted (by Voyance) or if we created god in our heads does it mean that we fully control our fate by our choices?” So, it might be that the opening roar is one of anxiety as Nietzche´s abyss stares right back at us. Nevertheless, this runs through the album like a black backdrop as the last song title is ”After Demise” and in between the first and last song the band not only pours out momentous music, but also transitions between tension, anger, despair and relief. The music glissades effortless between Atmospheric Sludge Metal, Sludge Metal, Black Metal, Dark Wave only to mention a few. Sometimes there are small shifts in the tonality, sometimes the bottom falls out and the synths soar alone and sometimes the sonics come out dissonant.
The second song, ”Solace” appears slowly like a fog horn in the night that morphs into a gliding synth and we are plunged into a fast growing atmospheric sludge soundscape. All the instruments gather below the vocals driving it forward with floating shifts in the harmonies until an insisting guitar far away lightens the sound a bit. With ”Odioum” begins a foreboding descent towards the last song as it ends with distorted guitars and dissonant synths. But it starts with a rising crescendo with all instruments blasting everything fast forward with screaming vocals. The song throughout detonates the tension and release with transition to a clean guitar fighting the dissonant synths.
”Sermon” opens slowly embraced by cavernous synths that bring on a heavy riffing soundscape with low-end bass to highlight the vocals. In the dense sonics beautiful melodic parts are hidden, sometimes lifted out and about by the guitars. In between, it drips of yearning and passion as tremolo guitars lift the sonics toward a wide Dark Wave part near the end with beautiful shifts into echoing guitars with no end in sight to make you ready for the chaos of ”Abeyance”. That track begins after an introduction by undecided dissonant guitars over deep end bass. The music thunders forward beneath the vocals upheld by a glass wall of synths. Chaos reigns supreme nearly covering the vocals until the tempo shifts and the fast pace is back with d-beat drums to radiate energy into the massive soundscape that is building dissonantly upwards until it ends in frustrated chaos with synths and guitars.
The two last songs dip in a sublime way into two main genres. ”Inference” opens with a bonfire before suddenly hurtling into Black Metal with a dissonant, foreboding guitar followed by racing d-beats and blastbeats over a deep end rumbling bass. A high-pitched guitar flies above the tumbling chaos beneath like moon beams on dark water while the vocals fight to get attention. The last song, ”After Demise”, is filled with heavy and dense melodic Atmospheric Sludge Metal at a slow pace with wide ranging sonics over inharmonic synths and low end bass. The sonics rise with tremolo guitars and distorted guitars keeping a melodic theme while the deep end bass slowly and melodically pushes the sonics forward with elongated changes in tonality. The music floats along onto a doomy end soon overtaken by shimmering synths heading towards the endless longing of humans for some meaning in the chaos: ”With unnatural / illusion of awareness, /Remain silent / fail into dusk”
As I hinted above, Hegemone has been lurking in the shadows of the giants of the scene. But no more, as with this expansive, dense and beautiful release the band has fused all the good parts from their previous albums in 2014 and 2018 into an album that both defines and expands the post-genre. The band says it best on their Facebook page: “ Our way is to fight noise with noise. Look, through the sky. Vanish into the soil. We won’t define.”