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Hemina - Synthetic CD (album) cover

SYNTHETIC

Hemina

 

Progressive Metal

3.94 | 210 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

J-Man
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Hailing from Australia is Hemina, a five-piece progressive metal act that strikes an impressive balance between classic prog metal, heavy modern influences, and dynamic touches reminiscent of the best progressive music from the seventies'. The band gained some attention for their 2010 EP, As We Know It, but their 2012 full-length, Synthetic, has actually received quite a bit of hype and recognition from the progressive rock and metal communities. And with good reason, I might add. Clocking in at roughly 80 minutes, this ambitious concept album is jam-packed with absolutely killer and surprisingly unique prog metal; Synthetic is the sort of album that fans of the genre will not want to pass up on. This is just a damn good album across the board, and I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more from Hemina in the future.

The majority of the music that's played on Synthetic is what I tend to look for in modern progressive metal - dynamic songwriting, stunning instrumentals, memorable choruses, and killer riffs. Hemina provides the listener with all of these things, but they do so in a way that is entirely their own. Rather than borrowing all of these tricks from established veterans like Dream Theater, Fates Warning, and Ayreon, Hemina puts these key traits in a more unique setting that sets them apart from other progressive metal acts. The end result is an album that sounds familiar and accessible to any prog metal veteran, but still contains enough original twists to keep it from feeling like a re-hash of something already done twenty years ago. Hemina leans towards the more theatrical and dynamic style of progressive metal played by acts like Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, Vanden Plas, and Evergrey, but you should also expect plenty of Dream Theater-influenced virtuosity, spacey sections reminiscent of Pink Floyd, melodic prog metal in the vein of Anubis Gate, and even some influences from modern thrash and power metal. Synthetic is not the kind of album that will sound polarizing to any progressive metal listener, but it packs enough variety to feel fresh and unique.

Of course, none of this would mean anything if Hemina didn't also impress from a compositional standpoint, but the band also excels on this front. For an album that's nearly eighty minutes long, it's a bit surprising that Synthetic is entirely void of any filler tracks. The ten-plus minute epic tracks like "To Conceive A Plan", "And Now To Find a Friend", and "Divine" may steal the show for some listeners, but many of the shorter songs are also masterpieces in their own right. Songs like "With What I See" or "Hunting Is For Women" especially strike me as an exceptional prog metal pieces that veer on the shorter side. In terms of musicianship, Hemina also delivers much more than expected; the band is exceptionally talented across the board, and some of the guitar solos (especially the one in "Divine") are just jaw-dropping. I could see Douglas Skene's vocals being an acquired taste for some, but I personally love his singing style. He sounds a bit like Ray Alder (of Fates Warning and Redemption fame) to these ears, which is definitely not a bad thing in my opinion.

The only minor complaint I have with the album is that the production is less than ideal - the mix feels a bit compressed, and (pardon the pun) the drums also have a 'synthetic' sound to them. A slightly less overdone production style would have impressed me, but this is the sort of flaw that's really easy to overlook in favor of excellent music. Synthetic is a virtually faultless debut album from Hemina; certainly not the kind of album that's easy to follow up. I'll be eagerly awaiting the band's next move, and in the meantime, I'll recommend this stunning debut to anybody who enjoy bands like Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, Redemption, Anubis Gate, Evergrey, Vanden Plas, and Dream Theater. Synthetic is undoubtedly one of the best debut efforts to come out within the last few years.

J-Man | 4/5 |

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