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Hemina - Synthetic CD (album) cover

SYNTHETIC

Hemina

Progressive Metal


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5 stars I was lucky enough to get a promo copy of this after following the band since their 2010 EP "As We Know It'. I was a big fan of that first release and I had extremely high hopes for this album to top it, especially in terms of production as I think that was the main thing thatt would have held the last one behind compared to other international prog acts. This album is everything I wanted from the seamless passage through tracks to the stunning musicianship.

Hemina really darken their sound up on a lot of tracks like "The Boy is Dead" and "Hunting is for Women" but this just adds to the complexity and power of the journey. I really loved how much better all the songs from "As We Know It" sound too.

Hemina are back with their trademark harmonies, a lot more guitar solos (which isn't bad by me) and a much improved rhythm section.

This is a wonderful concept album and after 10+ listens I can truly say it will be one of my picks for top albums of 2011.

Highlights: To Conceive a Plan Haunting Me! Divine

Report this review (#517888)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Last year I was lucky enough to listen to and review Hemina's debut EP "As We Know It". Within I discovered an incredibly mature, complex and emotional collection of music; far more developed and polished than one expects in Australia's burgeoning progressive music scene. Although rough at times in production, the songwriting was profoundly developed and intelligent, and the performances technically flawless.

In my mind Hemina was destined for something very great indeed, and "Synthetic" lives up to everything I imagined the band capable of and much more. The songs are epic, with a dynamic quality often missing in modern prog - harking back to Pain Of Salvation's "Remedy Lane" days: progressive metal with a natural understanding of ebb and flow and also of light and shade; nothing is overplayed and nothing is extended beyond it's welcome, an amazing feat considering the album is 79 minutes in length.

And although great as a whole there are some truly amazing songs that stand out. My personal favourite being "With What I See" (featured on the "As We Know It" EP): a beautiful piece of mid-tempo melodic metal with a powerfully emotive vocal performance, and stupidly catchy melody which flows into a brilliant, economical and very tasty guitar solo, Douglas Skene and Mitch Coull have really outdone themselves in this department; the guitar playing on Synthetic is a perfect combination of chops, taste and tone.

The final song "Divine" is as epic as any progressive metal song I've come across, with a gradual harmonic build atop an intense rhythm section pedal point lead by some of the strongest lead vocals on "Synthetic": Douglas Skene has the range of any progressive rock singer, but his vocals are coated in an honesty and sensitivity rarely heard. The rest of Hemina are no slouches in this department either, with some amazing full band harmonies (and death metal vocals too!) throughout the album.

The production throughout is of the highest calibre with the usual punchy and perfect timing of the style. Although technically flawless and clear from start to finish, it can feel a little sterile at times; the mastering is very intense and in-your-face which certainly sounds powerful, but leaves me personally wanting some space occasionally. The guitar tone is brilliantly crunchy and clear, and the lead tone has a warmth and finesse to it that serves the guitarist's considerable ability perfectly.

And there you have it, Hemina have stepped up to the plate as Australia's leading progressive metal band. Synthetic is a statement: a very serious challenge to the rest of the progressive metal community, both in Australia and internationally to take note. There is an amazing talent at work here, with a vision and a sound of their own. Hemina's debut album is of comparable quality to any classic progressive rock and metal debuts. If you haven't heard of them yet, you will soon!

9.5/10

Report this review (#531882)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Metal riffs, spacey effects, symphonic keyboard layers, wrapped around a concept - Hemina!

Hemina are an Australian Prog Metal unit that have recently made an impact with their debut Ep that has now become a full blown 79 minute epic master work in the form of 'Synthetic'. The sprawling concept album focuses on a disembodied angel who is forced to live in the modern world and even beyond into other eternities. The musicianship is akin to the metal melodic style of Dream Theater, Ayreon, Pain of Salvation and the symphonic ambience of Pink Floyd. It is about as good as I have ever heard from an Australian prog band.

It begins with 'This Hour of Ours'; a haunting sound of synths and rain falling heavily. The spacey atmosphere builds with the ethereal vocals of Douglas Skene from Anubis, crystal clear and empassioned. The piano accompanies in the next epic 11 and a half minute track, 'To Conceive a Plan' that suddenly explodes with metal distortion and a heavy tempo. Mitch Coull's lead guitar is scorching with a strong percussion beat by Andrew Craig. Jessica Martin's bass pumps along with well executed lines and the keyboards of Phill Eltakchi are extraordinary.

Together Hemina are a powerful force of prog metal and they delight in lengthy instrumental breaks and lead guitar solos. It is nice to hear Jessica's voice accompanying Skene at times.This track has some symphonic violin sounds and is driven by a rhythmic cadence. There are some loud screams to enhance the atmosphere and at 8:20 the riff chugs along well under Skene's finger blistering solo. The riff that comes in at 9:40 is a fast lead phrase that crunches with admirable dexterity. It is followed by blazing twin lead solos. The song is a grand start to this epic album.

Some keyboard wizardry is heard in the next track, 'The Boy is Dead', similar to the blistering work of Jordan Rudess. The pace settles into a quieter passage temporarily before the next metal attack. Quieter ethereal vocals are heard but it explodes suddenly into relentless riffing.

'For All Wrong Reasons' is a nice change into balladic territory, breaking from the heaviness previously. The harmonies are beautiful with Skene and Jessica's duet; 'I've seen each passing season, the places for my calamity.' As far as a ballad goes this is Hemina at the top of their game. The lead guitar soars with emotion and caps off a highlight of the album. This is segued seamlessly by another 11 minute epic 'And Now to Find a Friend', with a string section and then pounding drums and distorted guitar riffs. The synth solo is dynamic and lifts the atmosphere considerably. The vocals are passionate and there is a soundscape of keys and guitars beneath, reminding me of Queensryche or Symphony X. It takes many directions into metal and symphonic territory before settling into a very pronounced ambience with lead guitar finesse and estranged melancholy vocals.

The next track is 'With What I See', beginning softly with piano, acoustics and strings. The metal riffs take over drowning out the keys. It is a fairly standard metal song for the majority but it ends with an innovative passage of feedback and spacey synths, with waves crashing. This segues into 'Hunting is for Women' that opens with heartbeat drums. There is an odd time sig and very off kilter instrumentation. The vocals follow the melody that are more experimental ending with some weird sounds and a nice synth, but it is not one of my favourite songs on the album.

Next is 'Even In Heaven', and it is back to the metal guitars and keyboard runs. The tempo is slow paced for a while but it builds to a driving fast beat and crunching riff. This was welcome after a lot of slower material. Everything stops as the verses come in; 'life takes you by the helm, myself my soul you dwell, its yearning to see the light of day because of you.' The love song becomes a fast paced riffing head banger, with blazing guitar speed sweeps, and percussive blastbeats. The instrumental break is wonderful with mellotron style keys and an incredible breakneck speedy keyboard solo over heavy drums and guitar. The blitzkrieg lead guitar solos are also frenetic and well executed in this highlight of the album.

'Conduit to the Sky' is a short track, less than three minutes, with creepy keyboards and choral angelic vocals. It is a transition piece leading to 'Haunting Me!', that rips along with metal riffing elegance and darker multi tracked vocals, with lyrics such as; 'death is not the end', 'nothing left to see', and 'is this all I'll be.' The choppy riff leads to a twin lead solo, and an ethereal section with effects and vocal intonations.

'Divine' finishes the album with an outstanding lengthy 13 minute epic. The metal riffing is predominant in the first section, with duel lead solos and a layer of keyboard pads. The vocals are again mixed well into the sound; 'Welcome home, I've been here, the walls are so reminiscent.' Later there is a blistering fret melting lead break that is one of the finest on the album. The keyboard solo is very much like Dream Theater and the song settles into a nice quiet acoustic passage with soft vocals at 7:40. A metal riff joins and another verse, similar to earlier. The vocals are high pitched and well sung, as another lead break cracks the sound. There are some death growls to follow that are unsettling after all the clean vocals. The clean vocals soon return though and the time sig changes into a moderate tempo. Jessica's voice is heard again and then a nice reverb guitar with spacey overtones. Reversed effects add to the strange atmosphere, and the song ends on this dark vibe.

This album is certainly an epic journey with incredible guitar and keyboards, as well as a strong bass and drum rhythm machine. The vocals are appropriate and overall this is an impressive debut from this Australian band. There is enough metal here to satiate the appetite and it is brimming over with symphonic and spacey embellishments. This comes highly recommended to the prog metal fan who does not like to be constantly bombarded with speedy riffs, over produced complexity or death growls. In fact this album has a sprinkling of these but focuses on haunting atmospheres, strong melodies and downright virtuoso arrangements.

Report this review (#645483)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just got this as a promo from Nightmare Records.

Gotta say this isn't what I was really expecting. Prog Metal led me to think that this would be like Symphony X, Dream Theater and the like with the strong metal presence and blistering solos. Sure there are a few bits like that but this was really just like Symphonic Prog with the gain turned up.

I think this is kind of like Yes meets Metallica. It's amazing. So emotional. I read the singer is in Sydney band Anubis who also had a fantastic 2011 release.

This is my tip for one of the best of 2012 alonside Alcest and hopefully the new OSI.

Now with Anubis, Hemina and Arcane - Australia releases some of the finest in the world.

Report this review (#645519)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars So many harmonies and such a rich sound. This Australian band I found from listening to Katabasis, another band from Sydney in Australia. I bought this album for 25 euro after hearing the sampler and I just wanted to hear more. The album is phenomenal if not a little long but I don't know where I'd cut bits.

I especially love the keyboards and guitars. When the delicate light vocals from Martin come in, it makes the songs shine. Normally, I don't care for female vocals in prog or metal but in this case, I want more.

This is probably 4.5-4.75 stars and almost as good as Pain of Salvation but not quite. Keep at it, I think the band is young.

Jon

Report this review (#646545)
Posted Monday, March 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hemina is a fairly new on-the-scene five-piece progressive metal band from Sydney, Australia featuring Sydney's Anubis guitarist Douglas Skene as frontman. After releasing their five track EP entitled 'As We Know It' in 2010, Hemina are gaining some well deserved attention for their debut album 'Synthetic'. With clear influences such as Ayreon, Pain of Salvation and Anathema, 'Synthetic' is sure to please Prog fans and Metal fans alike looking for something fresh.

Hemina's 'Synthetic' is a 79 minute journey that entertains and enthrals the listener from the opening track 'This Hour of Ours' until the last note on their epically lengthy final track 'Divine'. Although it is a long album, I always feel the urge to keep listening. I am a massive fan of Pain of Salvation, Opeth, Anathema and Dream Theater to name a few, so I am pleased to come across an album as dynamic and emotional as this that incorporates all the things I love about these bands with a mixture of vocal styles, including female vocals of Bassist Jessica Martin and vocals of guitarists Douglas Skene and Mitch Coull along with the warm tones of Keyboardist Phill Eltakchi.

The album takes you on a journey through an Angel's life and his struggles through his younger years until he finds love referenced in 'And Now to Find a Friend', and follows the events that lead him to take his own life in 'Hunting is for Women'. It is great to see a band that expresses such real emotion through such escapist music.

Stand out tracks for me include;

'The Boy is Dead'. This track opens with drums and haunting guitar riffs before exploding into a punching guitar riff complete with keyboards and bass. I feel that this particular song is quite unique as I can't think of another song I could compare it to. This song shows Skene's softer vocals in the verses that, contrast the heavy riffs in the choruses. There are plenty of tasteful solos in this song to satisfy. Skene depicts the emotion of the song through his well placed growls that never overstay their welcome.

'Hunting is For Women' a song that depicts a family retreat into the wilderness, where a father goes through the motions of teaching his son to hunt; to become a man without him. The song opens with the thumping of tribal drums and bass to the sound of a camp fire as it sets the scene for this leg of the Angel's journey. A minute in and you are thrusted into an atmospheric sphere, my favourite part of the song vocally, which demonstrates Douglas Skene's gentle vocals and use of imagery in his lyrics, as well as showcasing harmonies cleverly with Jessica Martin and Phill Eltakchi through the "Two of us" and "Three of us" lyrics in which there are 2 and 3 part vocals respectively. The outro is very moving as the lyrics depict a man who has given up on his life as he apologises to his son for his life's failures. The piece concludes with the imagery of shotgun fire that is deeply evocative and seems to send shivers down my spine with each listen.

Another stand out track is 'Haunting Me!'. This is a more upbeat track that further displays Hemina's diverse range of style. The chorus comes in with four-part vocal harmonies by Douglas Skene, Mitch Coull, Jessica Martin and Phill Eltakchi. A fun, energetic and emotive song in which all band members shine.

The final track 'Divine', a 13 minute epic, showcases Mitch Coull's vocals at the forefront in the first verse. It's refreshing to hear multiple singers, especially on such a long album as it helps to yield further variety on the album. 'Divine' represents everything about this band that I love with exemplary instrumentation and reprised themes. This track may be a bit on the long side for some listeners, but I find the listen worthwhile each time.

I am forever in search of fresh progressive metal acts that demonstrate as much raw emotion teamed with poetic lyrics as Hemina's debut album 'Synthetic' displays. The technical ability of all members is evident from start to finish without overstepping into wankery. I see great things for Hemina in the future and look forward to their next release. Although I have some minor qualms with the production (slightly more present bass would have been nice), 'Synthetic' is an essential addition to my CD collection and quite possibly my favourite Australian metal release.

Report this review (#649627)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars All I have to say is when I finished listening to this album by Sydney Progressive Metal band was WOW. The music on this record is truly nothing short of amazing. The power, the melody and the passion for writting a great prog metal song.

I guess I'm lucky enough to live in Australia cause I have seen these guys play live and they are amazing. I would like to focus on a main topic in this review, and that is the amount of singing and layers that are on this album and also so listeners do not get confused on who might be singing in what part. But apart from that, I would like to say just how amazing each instrument is from the memebers in this band. The guitars are pretty much the best thing I have ever heard from an australian metal band. Mitch Coull and Douglas Skene have absolute control of those 6-7 strings. Not only are there fast alternate picking passages(one could listen to the first solo in Divine to understand what I mean) thanks to Douglas Skene but there also very tasty guitars solos lead by Mitch Coull with his nicely controlled, wide vibrato. Much like George Lynch of Dokken. And when these 2 guitars come together in Harmony or twin licks, this is where the real guitar magic happens. Haunting Me! is a perfect example of this.

The next thing from this band that is truly amazing is the keyboard work of Phill Eltakchi with his soothing pad sounds to the ripping keyboard lead tones to the amazingly layered ochestral sections.

The rhythm section is thunderous too lead by a very talented Jessica Martin and Andrew Craig. These 2 get really tight with each other and provide a sphincter tightening delight. The album opens up with This Hour Of Ours and you can hear Douglas' beautiful vocals welcoming us to a beauty that is to come.

The first actual song(one would say) is To Concieve A Plan. This song is an epic that opens up with piano lines and then crashes into chunky guitar riff and double kick drums and then being lifted again by a whaling guitar solo played by Mitch Coull. Its 5 minutes before we hear vocals in this song but thats ok, it is well worth the wait to just hear amazing intrumentation. At 5:40, we hear Mitch Coull's voice enter into the album for the chorus. The song goes back into another verse and chorus before suddenly stopping into a chugging riff that gets picked up by the drums and riffage onslaught that follows before the song ends with 2 guitar solos. Douglas plays the first solo and Mitch plays the second.

The Boy Is Dead is what one might think as being different due to its ambient sound but that doesnt mean it isnt good cause its great. Very tricky time signitures in this song and great vocals that are mainly all lead by Douglas Skene apart from some harmonies. There is one section in this song that would remind us of a cross band if you had TesseracT with Dream Theater, djenty and prog. The song then finishes off with a very soothing and bluesy type solo thanks to Mitch Coull.

For All Wrong Reasons is probably the song that confuses most people as to who is singing in what part. And having seen Hemina live, I can sort this all out for you. Douglas Skene starts off with the vocals in the song, but when you hear the vocal harmony come in(1:00), its actually Mitch Coull that sings the line above Douglas and through out the song. In the second verse, you hear a 4 part harmony and thats made up of Douglas, Mitch, Jessica and Phill and continues that way until the song is finished.

With What I See is like a pounding 80's hard rock song with riffing guitars and kick drums with Mitch and Douglas sharing main vocal lines in the chorus'. The guitar solos in this song whale than any twin guitar dueling band from the 80s(the good ones atleast) with Mitch providing us with the first solo, a duel harmony and Doug dominating the second solo.

Even In Heaven is a personal favourite for me cause its got really heavy parts and real heavenly parts in it aswell and they somehow manage to make it work. Plus it sounds to be a love song and we all like love songs that have soft and heavy sections in the one song!

Haunting Me its just an amazing 3-4 minute, highly melodic song that pounds you from start to finish. Plus this is the song I was talking about earlier that shows that amazing twin lead solo 'thing' that Hemina do. And, they do it well!

But if you could only show a friend one song from this album to try and some up one of your favourite aussie acts, then Divine would be the one you would show. Like all the other songs on this album, the guitar work is very technical and, well, amazing. The song opens up with tight syncopated guitars and drums with a thundering bass underneath and amazing orchestations ontop certisy of Phill. So incase you might of been wondering who is singing the first verse of Divine, this is sung by a very passionate Mitch Coull who delivers a bit of a different approach to Douglas. Douglas has wonderful runs and an amazing vocal range. Whereas Mitch has alot of power and 'volume' in his voice that with every line he sings, you know he believes in what he says.

The highlights for me on this song are; the first guitar solo played by Douglas who uses the alternate picking technique to oblitorate our ears(in a very good way), Mitch's main vocal verse where you really get to hear what the guy can do with his voice, the intertwining guitar signiture riff that comes in at 6:30 and finally Mitch's blistering guitar solo that comes in towards the end of the song at 9:14. This is a great solo to show example of what I was talking about before regarding controlled wide vibratos. This song as a whole is one of THE best songs I've heard in quite some time. It has it all, the heaviness, the fastness, the softness and the sound of a song well contructed and written.

Hemina are just a fantastic all round Progressive Metal band that has it all and does things in all the right places. I hope to see these guys out my way again soon to see yet another great show. These guys may be young with only 2 and a bit years on the live scene but with the way they are going, they are doing really well with themselves. Good on you Guys and Girl!

Report this review (#650904)
Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of Hemina's début EP As We Know It and was immensely impressed with the depth displayed within. Although the production was flawed the CD conveyed a strong sense of potential, a veritable diamond in the rough. Suffice to say their latest effort Synthetic applies a healthy dose of aural polish and reveals the 5 carat progressive-metal diamond that lay within.

From the moment the album begins, you feel you are being taken on an emotional and musical journey, as the melancholic intro 'This Hour of Ours' swells smoothly into the energetic guitars of 'To Conceive a Plan'. Such emotional depth is on display throughout the album, as the sophisticated song-writing and lyricism weaves a symbolic tale of self-discovery.

Stand out tracks include 'The Boy is Dead' and 'Haunting Me', which introduce a darker sound to the skilful melodicism found throughout the album, "Hunting is for Women' which transitions from almost ethereal ambience, through a pounding rhythmic assault and into melancholic rock before fading into an acoustic section that builds into an electronic outro to create the energy for the next track without sounding disjointed or awkward.

To close out the album Hemina unleash the sublime 'Divine' on the listener, a 13:28 conclusion that ties the rest of the album together both musically and lyrically. Featuring intricate musicianship and a notable dark reprise of 'Even in Heaven' that further cements the fact that Hemina have what it takes to craft truly amazing progressive music.

Unfortunately the album falls just short of being a truly perfect album, by falling back on convention a little too much on occasion. This is exemplified by the song 'With What I See', which detrimentally flirts with 80s rock. The simplified song-writing on this track stands out when surrounded by the technicality of the rest of the album.

Despite a few missteps (almost an inevitability for a bands first full-length album) the overall high quality demonstrated throughout all facets of the album, from the song-writing, lyrics, production and the packaging make this a must-have album for fans of heavier progressive music and cements Hemina at the forefront of the Australian music scene.

4.5/5

Report this review (#651489)
Posted Friday, March 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#651833)
Posted Friday, March 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars After initially listening to this album in the car, I realized the only way to give it the full credit it deserved was to sit back in my reclining chair and listen to it from beginning to end on my hi-fi stereo system. The musical composition takes the listener on a journey which is encapsulated by instrumentals, lead and backup vocals that play tribute to the meaning being conveyed. The album is both relaxing and exciting. I found the overall experience a stimulation to the senses and when the 78 minute marathon came to an end I felt I could start from the beginning and relive the event all over again. I found this album to be a very pleasant listening experience and highly recommend it.
Report this review (#659488)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I totally agree with what the 5 star reviewers have already said about Hemina What I want to do is add a different point. What I REALLY like about this album is the feeling of being 'in' on these guys from the beginning. There's going to be a whole raft of people climbing on board the momentum that Hemina are going to build. You watch, there'll be good people raving about album 3, album 4, and we will ask them - newly converted - if they remember when Synthetic came out?

You and me will. Think of all the guys you wish you'd tracked from the start. Then keep an eye on Hemina.

In fact, make sure you're across the EP that heralded this album. The magnificent and mighty opener 'Lonesome Angel' does not appear on Synthetic and it's a 'must have'. And it just shows that these guys have "sauce in the bottle" to spare (thank you Jack Black).

Report this review (#660342)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm really glad to see all the positive hype this album is getting. I am new to the review game and it's rare to find the marriage between Classic Prog and Metal like this in 2012. I get tired of all the busy riffing that counterparts of the genre bring nowadays. I was especially disappointed by the Arch Matheos project which had such possibility but was ruined with pretentious odd meter riffs that sound recyled from Awake-era Dream Theater.

Hemina doesn't mess about with anything too technical (and I could imagine this would bring them down at times in some peoples eyes) and you really have to sit it out and let the CD take you away. Sure this album might not be for fans of modern metal who just like to be slammed in the chest, this is Metal at its most artistic. I don't really know any other Progressive bands from Australia other than Unitopia, however I think I must be checking out this band Arcane which is the only band to be trumping them on the archives at the moment.

I have had this on repeat with TMV's new one since I got them. Brilliant stuff!

*****

Report this review (#676820)
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars ..."and not every album you enjoy will be a perfect masterpiece" warns the pop up after I assign a 5 star rating. Indeed that is true yet this album is a indeed a masterpiece. It's just simply perfect.

All of the elements that I love about progressive music are present in this album; the cinematic feel, the complicated songs full of twists, the solos and the dark back story. This album has all of these elements but does not over indulge in any of them, thus making is epic and interesting without ever sounding cheesy.

The songs vary significantly over the 80 minute effort from heavy, dark sounding riffs of Even in heaven to acoustic interludes of For all the wrong reasons. Douglas Skene's vocals go up like an eagle (or a pigeon to the blade to be more specific) and down to the smothering bass of Peter Steele. Both of the guitarists are fantastic, very technically proficient, without loosing emotion even in the fastest of sections. The drums patterns are interesting and the bass breaks away from the mentality of "just follow the guitar" and creates interesting counter melodies. Finally, the mixing of this album is crystal clear and well defined. The guitar tone is warm and organic, the snare drum is to die for the keyboards are fantastic both at the clear defined synth and the ambient atmospheric sounds and the bass is nice and high in the mix.

This is the best prog album that has left the shores of Australia. A must listen, you will not regret this purchase.

Report this review (#722256)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

A promising band that presents a nice and fresh material from progressive metal!

I'm happy to gain access to the band's debut album Hemina, entitled Synthetic - mainly because I do not disappoint! The truth is that not long ago I heard a piece of progressive metal so good and convincing, and the same can be said of Ephemeral Sun´s album intitled Harvest Aorta, which I heard a lot these days too. Immediately point out that what is being offered here is not 100% original - many places will send the listener to known names with Dream Theater, Symphony X, Ayreon, Pink Floyd - but Hemin offers us a sound so powerful and creative you have to admire your effort.

It is rare to see a brilliant debut album as well, but Synthetic is a exception. The band leader is Douglas Skeene, the neo-prog band Anubis (which also got curious about), here is the vocalist, lead guitarist and keyboardist occasionally. I have deep admiration for this man,his guitar work is strong, your vocals are great (especially in the treble) and keyboard (in union with keyboardist di facto Phil Eltakchi) and fills the atmosphere of this album, with strong and varied solos , which are probably my preferred embodiment here!

There are some negatives, I inform. I personally hate growls though they are scarce and can not really like them. And at times the album seems to lack ideas and drags a bit, which is evidenced in Hunting for Women and Even in Heaven. These however are some exceptions. Overall Synthetic is fabulous and inspired, and all songs are excellent (there are positives in even the two I mentioned). The absolute highlights are the epic To Conceive a Plan, And Now to Find a Friend and Divine, and The Boy is fantastic and exciting To All Dead Wrong Reasons (my gateway to the universe of Hemina).

5 stars for this masterpiece! 2012 promises to be a great year!

Report this review (#751853)
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#762082)
Posted Saturday, June 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars On their debut album Hemina offer a novel variety of progressive metal which provides the band with a unique sound. It draws on both symphonic prog-inspired and space rock-influenced varieties of progressive metal, but it's more sonically aggressive than Dream Theater or Fates Warning and more theatrical than post-In Absentia Porcupine Tree. Carving out their own little niche, Hemina take us through a wild and varied ride which crucially shows them to be masters of atmosphere and emotional resonance as well as technical chops, which leaves saves them from falling into the trap of producing overproduced and emotionally sterile material which is always a danger in the prog metal field and which they tend to teeter on the brink of a little too often. I wouldn't call it the instant classic others have proclaimed it as, but it's certainly a high-quality debut which has made me excited about prog metal again - and in particular, excited to see what Hemina do next.
Report this review (#797814)
Posted Wednesday, August 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Synthetic' - Hemina (8/10)

Hemina are part of what I might call the 'progressive metal revival'. Sure, the genre has enjoyed a steady supply of new albums each year, but it's only been relatively lately where I've noticed some of the younger bands stepping up to the plate and coming out with some really excellent music. Among others, Haken from the UK, Circus Maximus from Norway, and Distorted Harmony from Israel come to mind. Along with Caligula's Horse, Hemina is the Australian continent's contribution to this trend, and while it may not be a complete toppling of what has come before in progressive metal, there is no mistaking this style's rejuvenated modernity. "Synthetic" suffers from a few of the setbacks that generally come with an ambitious band first spreading their wings on a full length, but listeners can expect to hear some remarkable progressive metal from Hemina, now and in the coming years.

Hemina was first noticed by the progressive metal community with their self-released EP, "For All We Know". It wasn't long before they started making waves and sowed anticipation among listeners. Fans of that debut will recognize a few songs on "Synthetic"; "For All Wrong Reasons", "With What I See", and "And Now to Find a Friend" have each been given a new layer of shine for this full length. Despite a relatively short two year gap, Hemina have really widened the scope of their sound. Although their somewhat-trademark blend of Dream Theater-style prog metal and emotionally driven power metal is here, Hemina throw in electronic ambiance and even some jazz into what they do on "Synthetic".

Sure, I'd imagine most veteran prog metallers would be rolling their eyes around the time Dream Theater is mentioned as an influence, but Hemina come across as a relatively fresh-sounding act. Like many of their contemporaries in this prog metal 'renaissance', Hemina make their mark by incorporating powerful melodies, not in the traditionally bland 'arena rock' sort of way, but rather in the same sense that a classical composer would paint a hook into his craft. Vocalist Douglas Skene's voice fits the sound perfectly; I'd compare him (favourably) to Roy Kahn's quasi-operatic tenor in Kamelot. With the exception of drummer Andrew Craig (who is presumably too busy backing up the band with his intricate rhythms), every member of the band offers vocals in some capacity. Sadly, the prospect of a heavy metal barbershop quartet is wasted, but the warm voicework in Hemina gives "Synthetic" a warmth that helps bridge that gap between the logical and emotional sides of appreciation that progressive metal infamously so often foregoes.

"Synthetic" has some great songs on it- "And Now to Find a Friend" sounded great on the EP, and it sounds even better here- a prog metal powerhouse with plenty of twists and emotion to it. "For All Wrong Reasons" is a nice melodic reprieve from the otherwise prog- heavy bombast. However, while "Synthetic" is generally consistent and lacks anything I'd call 'filler', the near-eighty minute length feels like it could have used some cutting down. For all of its melodic sensibility, Hemina are a fairly cerebral experience, and taking in so much in one sitting can serve to take away from the enjoyment. Although Hemina have sharpened up their studio craft since "For All We Know", the production here still sounds a little dull; the atmospheric keyboards sound somewhat hollow in parts, and the guitars don't always sound like they're given the proper air to breathe. Luckily, Hemina focus largely on their greatest strength- the vocal aspect. "Synthetic" is a powerful mix of technical riffs and beautiful melodies, and it's no surprise that these guys have been receiving such good press in the prog world lately. At this point, Hemina feel like a band with much to offer, perhaps too much for their own good so early in the game. With this debut, they have delivered enough to get me excited, yet left enough room for improvement to make whatever second album that may come an even greater feat. I'm looking forward to it!

Report this review (#801359)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars As far as debut albums go, there's not many that are more ambitious than Hemina with their 2012 release "Synthetic". Clocking in at just under 80 minutes, this sweeping epic features dazzling technical prowess, memorable melodies and great atmospherics, all wrapped in the guise of a concept album.

Frontman Douglas Skene should be no stranger to prog fans due to his work with Anubis. Although Hemina is musically quite different, there are certainly commonalities that are instantly apparent: great production values, songwriting and atmospherics. Right from the opening track, the haunting "This Hour of Ours", there's a wonderful immersive quality that draws the listener into the album.

In terms of musicianship, all the facets of Hemina are very strong. But really, it's the guitars that steal the show. This is primarily a metal album and as such, there's a plethora of great chugging riffs that drive the album's momentum. In addition, the lead guitar is superb, alternating between melodic and frenetic where required.

There are more introspective moments such as "For All Wrong Reasons" and "Conduit To The Sky" where acoustic melodies take prominence, and these provide a nice change of pace as the narrative ebbs and flows. Speaking of which, the story that plays out throughout "Synthetic" is a dark and intriguing affair. It is clear that a celestial being is banished to Earth, condemned to live the tragic life of a man only to die again. From there, it's really up to the listener to fill in the blanks. This is a compelling way to draw the listener in again and again, as one tries to piece it all together.

Of particular note is the album closer "Divine". At over 13 minutes, it has just about everything one could want in a prog metal song. Vocal melodies are great, with phrases like "Welcome home, I've been here" really sticking in the memory long after the album has ended. Awesome shredding lead guitar gives way to a gorgeous melodic passage, and this really strikes an emotive chord that provides a perfect ending to the album. Overall this is a brilliantly conceived and executed finale.

Even with it's long running time, I can't pinpoint a weak spot on this album. All of the songs are well crafted and find their place within the narrative, working well individually and also as a whole. I'm hoping we'll see more albums of this quality from Hemina in the near future.

Report this review (#1013175)
Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I hate to name drop, but sometimes that gets people interested.... Hemina's first album is an excellent blend of most of the good prog metal bands from the last 10 years. Pain of Salvation, Symphony X, Kamelot, etc, but they don't really sound like any of them. Before I go on, I love the guitar solos on this album. Most are exemplary and rank up there with anything. It keeps me coming back. Quality. There's a lot of of atmospehrics, but also a lot of interesting riffs which really keep things interesting. Dougie's vocals on this are great, he sounds a bit young-ish, but the range is there and the tone will only get better. The album starts strong with "To Conceive a Plan", an 11 minute epic with everthing you need, speed, riffs, melody, solos. "The Boy is Dead" starts ominously before grinding into a heavy riff, very powerful, with a flurry of keyboards over the top. The song is a mix of heavy and epheral interludes which just adds to the impact. There's a nice harmony solos before a tasty lead and climactic ending. "For All the Wrong Reasons" is a mostly acoustic ballad and has a great melody, again building to a powerful ending and tasteful solo. "And Now to Find a Friend" cranks it up again, it has all the trademarks of progressive speed metal before slowing to an atmospheeric interlude with a great keyboard solo. The song then kicks off again with a great riff. "With What I See" is a great little power metal riffing rocker, tasty riffs and complexity with a relatively simple rhythm. Great solo. "Hunting is for Women" is different track, computerised, syncopated, driven by melody. "Even in Heaven" brings back the speed and kicks out some great solos, guitar and keyboard. The interlude "Conduit to the Sky" leads into "Haunted Me" which is the main single. A strong track with a lot going on for a single, nice harmony solo and harmonies. "Divine" finishes the album in style, a crunching 13 minute epic, with lots of changes, speed metal, atmospheric metal, lots of superb solos.

Great album, there's a lot of talent in this band, they will probably progress beyond the metal a bit more in their next album, but there's lots of things worthwhile listening to on this one,

Report this review (#1114573)
Posted Wednesday, January 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the trend to bring prog metal closer to the popular public (see Seventh Wonder, Sun Caged, etc) the Australian band Hemina represents probably the outmost edge, outdoing even the S.Wonder guys. The goal here is to cram as much sugarsweet melodies, teen heartthrob vocals, atmospheric breaks, songs about love-torn angels on top of pummelling riffs as possible with some death shout to boot (it is a strange world today indeed, where death shouts actually make the music more popular than not). The emphasis on melodies is actually kinda curious, since the band leader, Douglas Skene, looks on photos like a Klingon (tough, hairy aliens from Star Trek) :)

Anyway, its impressive still for a debut album to feature five not half bad songs over the 10-minute mark, although the transitions may seem a bit awkward at times, as well as several sugarsweet loud rockers meant to throw your fist in the air while holding on with the other hand to your girlfriend. If you are not allergic to bombast, you might as well check this one out.

Report this review (#1267418)
Posted Thursday, September 4, 2014 | Review Permalink

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