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Hemina - Synthetic CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.95 | 224 ratings

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4 stars For me The Land Of Oz has always conjured up polpular images of the indigenous kangaroo or the drone of the ancient dideroodoo so frequently heard creating mysterious atmospheres on documentaries about the vast & remote areas of the Australian outback. But a metal band named from Sydney NSW after an obscure ancient Roman annalist ? The first thought that entered into my head was, " this, I gotta hear ". Well so much for stereotypes. I was hooked after listening to Hemina's warm-up 2010 EP entitled " As We Know It" a couple of years back and it immediately reminded me of a modern take on art rock of the glorious seventies but with a modern mentality. Their most recent 2012 release, "Synthetic", is a full blown hybrid concept album that is full of melody, harmony, and pensive emotion with a dynamic metal foundation that assimulates many progressive rock hallmarks, most notably fluctuating moods and atmospheres, articulate philisophical lyrics and extended running times. Two guitars, an array of keyboards and a solid rhythm section of bass & drums configure the band and, with the exception of the drummer, all members sing vocals in one capacity or another offering many musical possibilities.

The mastermind behind Hemina is a gent by the name of Doug Skene ( aka Dougie of Anubis ) who plays guitar, sings lead vocals and writes most of the music along with the other guitarist Mitch Coull. What I found interresting is that the songs themselves are composed with the aid of computer software that convert the musical concepts into musical notation allowing for fine tuning afterwards. Individual members then modify their own parts and creating their own ideas so it is a full band effort here, not just a go nuts Doug band.

Often compared to bands like Dream Theatre, Pain Of Salvation and Ayeron, stylisticallly I find " Sythetic " difficult to categorize. Skene refers to his brainchild as " cinematic progressive metal " but I prefer to call it operatic metal because it is essentially , well, a metal opera and that, if I interpret the lyrics correctly, tells a metaphysical story of a fallen angel dealing with present day hardships. Even though containing enough power chords and screaming lead guitar solos to satisfy any metal head, what I think is most appealling to die hard fans of the 1970s art rock effusion ( such as myself ) are the ubiquitous keyboards of Phil Eltakchi which give every single track splendour, spaciousness and depth, painting lush backdrops that remind me of the mellotrons that gave bands back in the day an orchestral sound without having to have a full orchestra present . He also gives some good solos when appropriate that can have echoes of Styx ( " And Now To Find A Friend" ) as well as ethereal ambient qualities ( " Conduit To The Sky "& " The Boy Is Dead " ) that remind me of the electronic music of Tangerine Dream and the like. I can also detect some Marillion, Floyd and Iron Maiden hiding in " Synthetiic " every now and then . Skene can sound very much like Bruce Dickinson at times, especially when in the high register. My personal favourite on the album has to be "Even In Heaven" which is one of the heaviest and most intricate piece on the album that extends every member of the band with some absolutely serene vocal harmonizations. " For All The Wrong Reasons " is an acoustic guitar led ballad that sort of establishes the theme of the work early on. Even though it may not be a happy one it develops progressively as every track threads itself into the next. Even though you might have to make an appointment with yourself in order to garner the full essence of this 80 minute musical odyssey every one of the 11 sections of " Synthetic " is a rewarding listen. The pristine production is marred slightly at times with the bass being a bit muddled in the final mix-down, but this would be my only gripe with this ambitious and otherwise flawless work.

Metal is perhaps the most enduring of all rock genres, surviving in one form or another throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s right up to the 21st century. Hemina not only carries the torch adding their own modifications to previous paradigms but they come from the most unlikely of places, Sydney Australia, where there is obviously a happening metal movement as this is written in March 2012. One can only hope that Hemina continue to spread the good word. Being a vestige of the 1970s I can now firmly say that I have finally found a modern metal band that I can associate with that glorious era. Definitely a headphone album that deseves to be played LOUD!

Vibrationbaby | 4/5 |


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