Leeds based HIEROGLYPH bring their album Ouroboros with unapologetic originality and sounds that contrast and resonate with wonderful juxtaposition.
Without hesitation, Solar (The Fool) is a bright, shining start to the album, a song that brings in that wonderful energy you get from bands like DREAM THEATER, but with a much harder edge and malevolent intent. A strong opener, it fills you with expectations for what is to come. Samsara (The Wheel of Fortune) brings a more twisted, a more messed up feel to the prog side of things, and that entangled with the duality of male and female vocals creates just enough of a mixture to compliment and contrast the different styles of music layered through this track. Some of the instrumental elements are also really strong, and very promising to their individual style.
Shifting on from this, Enochian (The Hermit) bleeds in seamlessly, and has a beautiful undertone of something mangled and messy with always presenting mind mending ideas and a gloss of progressive melodies. It’s stunning stuff, always utilising the dichotomy of guitars and vocals that in lesser hands would be difficult to manage. These guys have a clear handle on things, and it’s never clearer than in Rise And Fall (Strength). More methodical, more menacing than ever before, there’s an intent here that brings in a more Gothic feel. This track wants you to become lost in it, to let loose and express whatever is inside of you. It’s truly evocative stuff.
Changing things up once again, Jopari (The Chariot) is a dark simony of agonisingly good vocals, that feel driven and urgent. For sure, there’s a feeling like CULT OF LUNA, TEXTURES, LACUNA COIL mixed with VOLA. There’s a sound of the new and the old in here, the overlap of important musical stylings of Gothic, Symphonic Metal as well as Post and Progressive. Together they create a brilliant blend. Just as such, Mandragora/Lunar (The Lovers) is a wicked beast of a tune. No fear here, only the one you might feel as your hairs stand on air between the ethereal and the ominous and the actual fun that can be had here. Indeed, the theme of two sides runs deep in HIEROGLYPH.
Crown (The Hierophant) brings back the onslaught of brutal Prog riffs and the total connection to the art of Metal. Expression and energy is almost excessive here, and by this point in the album you’ll revel in it. Surprisingly The Butterfly (The Emperor) gets a little more industrial in parts and even a little Post Hardcore, but the strong Synth keeps things feeling very much in the same vein as the rest of the album. Diversity in such a state is good for a band, especially when done well.
Sapphire (The Empress) is clearly one of the high points of this album, and no doubt doing to be a huge hit and talking point for fans who find them through singles. Taking a more levelled paced once more, the momentum is never lost. It’s an excellent demonstration that new blood can create imaginative, expressive work without ever coming close to mimicry. Likewise, Starlight (The High Priestess) is clearly a crowd pleaser. Not as experimental is other tracks, but a safe bet for a single for sure. Loads of energy, and those gorgeous vocals and exceptional riffs and patterns throughout. Finally, the piece de resistance of the album, Ouroboros (The Magician) is a maze of thoughts and emotions. It’s like a story in music; a tale that encompasses a mood. At almost fourteen minutes, you’d better brace yourself for the unusual turns this one takes and the wonderful way it will make you want to turn right back to the start and do it all again.
All in all, a stunning album, Ouroboros is undoubtedly the result of hard work, focused goals and a drive for creating a mixture of music that blends many genres and emotions. If they continue in this vein, HIEROGLYPH are going to see themselves as a very big name in the tech and prog scene.
Ourboboros is out now via self-release.
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