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5 stars Hemina first appeared on my radar back in 2012 with its skillful debut album Synthetic, which I had the pleasure of reviewing, and enjoyed quite a bit. The album had its issues, and Hemina became a "band with unrealized potential." With 2014's Nebulae, an album that started as an EP and expanded to a full length, I'm happy to report that the band has more than realized its potential, but rather exceeded all my expectations: delivering one of the best progressive metal albums I've ever heard.

A few points of interest about Hemina before I set out: its another entry in the avalanche of excellent progressive music coming out of Australia in the last few years. Additionally, Hemina is fronted by 4 lead singers, all with significant contributions on the record, as well as some awesome 4 part harmonies. On Nebulae, the songs are built heavily around the rhythm to great effect. The guitars on this album more often than not operate in rhythmic unison with the drums against the vocals, building a distinct sound, and placing a heavier emphasis on the groove of the album than seems typical for melodic prog.

A major development from Synthetic is simplified, catchier choruses. Where Synthetic at times felt somewhat directionless, Nebulae has an array of excellent choruses to tie together the songs and make them memorable. As mentioned above, Hemina sports 4 singers, 3 male and 1 female, and the vocal talents of band leader Doug Skene in particular really shine throughout the album. For a progressive metal album, Skene adopts a very straightforward sound. As a result, while it doesn't seem that the prog nerdery that was so excellent on Synthetic has been drastically reduced, it does find itself focused through a much more effective lens on Nebulae.

In terms of highlights, the intro track is one of the most impressive displays of vocal aerobics I've heard in recent memory, and the first full song, "Nightlives" has a downright addictive chorus delivered in awesome four part harmony from all of the band's singers. "Strength" has some of the most engaging progressive metal instrumentals that I've heard in years ? Probably my favorite since Leprous' Bilateral in 2011, and the driving verses in "Hope" are phenomenal, never mind the absolutely anthemic chorus. Hemina has all the brains of the great progressive metal albums, but with untold accessibility. Also, while "Otherworldly" seems much more in line with the musical style of Synthetic, it still delivers some downright exceptional vocal melody ? particularly near the end of the track with Doug's "I'll rise, ethereal, I'll rise otherworldly."

Nebulae not only sets out to create a progressive metal album that's catchy, with a strong groove and real appeal to prog nerds, it accomplishes it entirely. It's among the most vocally dynamic albums I've ever heard, without a moment wasted from the absolutely stellar intro "Before", to the haunting closer of "Otherworldly". Nebulae is emotionally and musically gripping, and an easy candidate for the best progressive metal I've heard this year. I stay far, far away from perfect scores, especially where progressive metal is concerned, but after much deliberation, I can't see myself awarding this anything less. I do look fearfully toward the future when I look like a fool, because Hemina only continues to improve the formula.

5 // 5

Originally posted at

Report this review (#1211389)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Something of a departure in style but equally as exciting as what "Synthetic" had to offer. I thought the debut was very special considering the quality of the EP that came before and the big step up it made. This is a whole new level of sheen. Where Synthetic lacked like in the drums that were very undynamic and the sometimes fuzzy guitars and young sounding vocals - nebulae is a whole new level of maturity. There seems to be some evidence of djent on this album which I like cos I like Periphery and I like Animals as Leaders but there are no growls like most bands who do this and there are heaps of solos. Nice vocals by the male voice and female voice and there are lots of lush choirs. Many bands now are just all guitar and forget about the keys, not these guys. There are even bits that are a bit funk.

This is almost a surprising shift in style but it's still Prog Metal but perhaps less quirky than before? The Pain of Salvationish vocals are a little different on this one with a bit more of a gothic/melodic rock approach. I like my Circus Maximus and melodic prog but with a smarter emotional edge and this does it for me. My favourite moments are the ending strings and riff of Promise and the chorus of Nightlives which is huge and uplifting. 90%

Report this review (#1218739)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well I got a review copy for the album and it whilst I was enjoying it overall it was rubbing me the wrong way in parts. Mainly because I think Lust was a bit jarring and I didn't know about the reuse of a b side from a single but I have put it out of my mind now and this is a masterpiece. The vocals and solos are the best I have heard in 2014 and the production is mint too. Something is in the water in Australia cos this, Anubis and Voyager are killing it!

Favourite tracks are Strength and Promise (epic song for a short track) - love the female vox.

Report this review (#1219797)
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
5 stars I've heard from several sources that 2014 has been a great year for progressive metal. Yet, I can count the releases I've really enjoyed on one hand! Enter Hemina. This Aussie band released an amazingly complex grower of an album a few years back wherein they combined brutal riffs with incredibly spacey keys. Well, these guys (and gal) are back with "Nebulae", and they have upped their game in every imaginable way, too.

Hemina loves concept albums, and, for the first way they have improved, I feel like their album concept is stronger and particularly more concise. "Nebulae" is a story about apathy and meaninglessness giving way to love and fullness of joy. You can certainly feel the love between the two primary vocalists, Douglas and Jessica (lovers in real life). If there is one emotion that hits the listener hard between the eyes, it is the palpable love that simply flows from the passion and lyrics in this album. I must take a moment, however, and talk about the pure quality of the vocalists here. Douglas has the voice of an angel. Huge highs and groovy lows are nothing for him, and his voice is tinged with a quality that is so sincere and so real. Jessica, his counterpart, also has an extremely melodic voice. Hearing these two sing together is a real treat that no one should miss, especially when their voices are so strong in the mix.

Yet, the music is equally noteworthy. Again, we get brutal, inventive riffs from Douglas and Mitch, plus we are treated to the best keys I've heard so far in 2014. Phill's keys twirl and swirl in, out, and around the guitar play, creating a sense of elation and fullness of sound. On top of this foundation, though, the band goes out on a limb here and there, such as in the amazing song "Lust", which dabbles in 70's funk and also showcases Jessica's great bass skills. From their dark fascinations in "Freedom" and their depictions of shallowness in "Nightlives" to their powerful epic "Strength" and the ballad "Soulmates", this album is endowed with richness, deliberate pacing, and clear inspiration. As "Nebulae" was originally meant to be an EP, the band must have really stumbled onto some great ideas somewhere. It has really paid off in spades.

My favorite tracks are definitely "Lust" and "Strength", and for entirely different reasons. While the former has amazing groove and headbang-ability, the latter has the spacey theatrics that I was truly hoping for in this album. I'm honestly flabbergasted by this album, and I can't really think of anything bad to say about it. If anything, the album could have been a little shorter, but that's nitpicking at best. "Nebulae" has joined the very few progressive metal albums in 2014 that have impressed me at all, and it has joined one other album (Distorted Harmony's "Chain Reaction") in the list of prog metal albums that have been truly outstanding this year. This is a must-hear for metal fans and rock fans alike, as both will find complexity, melody, and memorability herein. Thanks to the band for the promotional copy.

4.5 stars

Report this review (#1238191)
Posted Thursday, August 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars With Nebulae, Hemina build upon and polish the strong foundation of progressive metal that was their debut album Synthetic while progressing their sound in almost every way. The result is a heartfelt and accomplished record that further cements their position as a premier Australian progressive metal band.

Immediately noticeable is the improved production of the album. Every instrument is given room to breathe and the result is a rich, lush and downright pleasurable album to listen to. The rhythm section in particular is a vast improvement, exposing the girth and groove that was hinted at in the band's songwriting and live performances but was let down by the production of the first album.

The improved aural dynamics of the album accompany a diversifying of stylistic influences that fed the songwriting process, most noticeably djent and funk. These styles are blended artfully into the core of the bands signature sound and exemplified in the song 'Lust'. The courting of the djent genre might evoke fear that the band is pandering to a larger audience, but the band easily dispel such fears through the way they have incorporated the rhythmic strength of the genre with the melodic technicality they are known for.

The vocal performances of the band have also been polished to nigh perfection. The tendency towards the over-use of power metal theatrics from the first album has been reined in and this, along with the absence of death-metal growls that infrequently appeared on their earlier record, creates a sincere and emotive vocal effort and increases the dramatic effect of the occasions that the extremities of the singer's vocal range are utilised. The increased use of female vocals enriches the sound further, drawing comparisons to the likes of Anathema especially during 'Soulmates'.

There is no such thing as a perfect album, and unfortunately this holds true for Nebulae. While overall the record comes across as heartfelt and natural there are a few stylistic choices that detract from this feeling, particularly the vocal delivery for the early verses of 'Lust'. While all the vocals are technically still expertly executed on this song, the vocal styling for these verses is one of the few times it feels as though the band is trying to forcefully incorporate the styling of another genre.

Despite a few (admittedly subjective) disagreements with some of the newer elements of Hemina's songwriting the album remains in my opinion a masterpiece of progressive metal comparable in quality to not only the work of premier Australian acts such as Voyager and Caligula's Horse, but to any international progressive metal band.


Report this review (#1253756)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Hemina, Australia's answer to Dream Theater, have released their second album and it is a genuine delight. Hemina released an excellent album in 2012 "Synthetic" that really impressed me with its blend of metal and spacey musicianship. It is an album I would recommend to the prog metal fan who does not like to be constantly bombarded with speedy riffs, over produced complexity or death growls, and recommended for those who love haunting atmospheres, compelling lyrics, strong melodies and virtuoso arrangements.

This followup album "Nebulae" is again a blend of crunching metal riffs juxtaposed with melodic keyboards and soul wrenching vocals. The vocals, as previous, are in the accomplished hands of Douglas Skene and his loved one Jessica Martin. Douglas is a busy guitarist, with involvement in a variety of other Prog related projects, and with Hemina he is able to shine with some fret melting lead breaks and killer riffs. His vocals always remind me of the type heard on Pain of Salvation albums, indeed the band are similar to the sound of Kamelot or Symphony X in places, and Jessica's vocals may remind some of After Forever or Nightwish at times. It is a clear tone and easy on the ears, with easily recognizable lyrics. Jessica's vocals enhance the sound, with beautiful resonance and haunting clarity. I believe an angelic voice can soothe the soul, and in the same way as is heard on many Ayreon albums, the addition of a female vocalist is always a welcome sound after a lot of male vocals. It balances out all the heaviness of aggressive guitar riffs and pounding drums. Jessica plays bass also and this strikes out effectively with some outstanding keyboards by Phill Eltakchi. The whole sound is fleshed out by Mitch Coull, also adept on acoustic and electric guitars, and plays some blindingly brilliant lead solos.

The lyrics are important in understanding the conceptual ideas behind the album. Each song is given a one word title and follows an emotional journey of searching in the darkness of despair and coming out of the night with a sense of hope and one final promise. On the way the protagonist has to battle the trials we all face but in the struggles there is strength leading to building up of character, and through strength of character comes hope. Then there is the literal meaning that has a science fiction element, but one can interpret this as they choose such is the ambiguity of the concept, and this is one of the drawcards of Hemina. Douglas Skene describes the concept as being centered around "lucid dreaming and the exploration of possible worlds dominated solely by particular human emotions and experiences in isolation. It's about the search for transcendence through love and the desire to be loved."

The journey begins with 'Before', the lyrics hinting at the dreamscape concept; "I thought true love would make it easy if we played our parts, two souls hovering, floating, gliding for a counterpart". The music builds gradually and then breaks into a lone keyboard seguing seamlessly into 'Nightlives'. A multi tracked vocal is heard as a wild guitar phrase crunches along a forced percussion figure. The lyrics centre on the lucid dreaming; "In my waking world I can't walk through these walls, or feed my hands to each other, oh, eye to eye with my watch face, to me its flickering, lucidly I forge my nebulae." The latter lyric is sung with an aggressive growl, though the majority of vocals are clean and harmonised with multi tracked voices. Douglas Skene is in his element on this album, really powering out some excellent vocals. There are sudden bursts of sound in an ambient section that has a dramatic effect. A keyboard and lead guitar solo rounds off this indelible highlight, making this a great start to the album.

'Freedom' cranks along a genuine metal blast beat rhythm, with provocative lyrics; "set the masses free and destroy minority". Some forced growls sounding like Devin Townsend are heard in places to great effect. I particularly love the jagged guitar rhythms. This one really grows on you after a few listens and the lead break is absolutely killer, reverbs, delays and huge string bends, merging into a frenetic keyboard solo. Coull's lead guitar playing is a speed blur of frenetic picking and up sweeps. A final effect of a helicopter and air raid siren adds to the concept.

'Lust' surprises with a funkadelic groove reminiscent of late 70s Disco. Jessica has fun playfully plucking out a bassline that comes straight out of the Earth Wind and Fire Museum of funky bass hooks. The sound works as the song is about lust, and what can be more lustful than 70s porno funk grooves? A salacious hook locks in as chaotic percussion and bass warbles about. It's nice to hear Jessica passionately duet with Douglas. The lyrics are compelling focussing on unrequited love; "I picked you out from across the room in this white light, so bright." The soothing keyboards are counterbalanced by heavy passages of guitar, though the music is always allowed to breathe. The music is a testament to the innovative creative talents from the group that were only hinted at in the debut. The band go into full flight on this track and plunge deep into the steamy waters of quirky pop and dance at times, strange bedfellows I agree but Hemina make it work somehow.

'Soulmates' is a calming atmospheric track reverberating with acoustic vibrations. There is a romantic sense of mystery in the lyrics; "walking together, growing strong, amidst this void we found our call". The song floats on an air of keyboards and acoustics as vocals caress the spaces between, with some of Douglas Skene's best work and Jessica answers with emotive angst. The singing is exceptional on this album, and I particularly love how Jessica and Douglas are able to balance each other's styles on soulful, melancholy songs such as 'Soulmates'; it is truly beautiful. The twin lead break is also awesome with howling string bends and fast fingering echoing the turgid romance in the lyrics.

'Strength' follows, with staccato meat cleaver chops of metal chunks blasting over manic synths. This is a heavy song after the previous melancholia. In the lead break there is a fractured rhythm and some blazing riffs with duel guitar playing. The keys chime in with sweeping washes of string pads as the pacey rhythm gallops along in contrast. After more singing a stunning lead break takes the song out, with a flurry of speed trills and lightning fingering. The lyrics are mysterious and draw one in; "I head to unseen waters toward a light that is lovingly familiar, a figure glimmers in the distant sunset, the me I'd dreamed of with a little more strength."

'Loss' keeps a steady rhythm with metal distortion and a strong melody. The lyrics are intriguing; "I want to thank you for sparing me the years or empty hope, strung along for what seemed like a legacy". The melody is difficult to capture but there is so much happening at such a frenetic pace that it does not matter. The guitars are complemented by huge cloudbursts of synth.

'Hope' jumps along an odd meter with forceful passionate vocals that are the dominant force here, with some enticing lyrics, "my world a sphere of ice and me its cold insides, stars warm my heart the distant nebulae." An ambient opening warms up 'Promise'; a song with an optimistic note. The metal blasts are prevalent soon as Jessica and Douglas sing "promise me you'll try eternally, I need someone who will grow." The shattered rhythms are jarring to the ear and there is an ascending melody, and a soothing outro.

'Otherworldly' takes things out with Hammond sounds and a raucous chorus; "through the wormhole and rise to another frame, frame of reference free of a world of blame." The song takes some twists and turns with sudden departures in volume and pace, quiet reflective moments concluding the conflict in the concept; "reach down inside and realise what you've lost, it's simple to find if you've even got a heart." A choppy riff is heard over a fast keyboard phrase. Some very powerful vocals follow, and it breaks into a classical piano passage, then the grinding metal riffs return, fracturing time signatures, and a final spoken narrative section over ethereal keyboards. The sheer force of musical virtuosity is astonishing on this album.

A new project "Venus" is still in the pipeline and hopefully will see the light of day in the near future, but till then "Nebulae" will continue to excite listeners with accomplished musicianship and mesmirising themes. There are throughout adventurous basslines and sporadic blitzing drums. The dynamic lead guitar breaks and keyboard flourishes are incredible. Hemina inject odd time sigs and intricate layers of instruments to create some remarkable musical compositions. Overall "Nebulae" is yet another solid release from Hemina that delivers outstanding prog metal on a plate served up with a slice of funk, diced up with distorted guitar riffs and a nice garnish of spacey atmospheres wrapped around a concept of lucid dreaming and the exploration of emotions.

Report this review (#1262376)
Posted Friday, August 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Once when I wanted to write about Hemina, inadvertently Femina came out from my "pen". Femina is a word that Soviet people familiar with popular Western culture used in the same way that the word "babe" is used in English. Anyway, I can see why this band may hold cross-gender appeal. This is bombastic prog metal meant for the young - the rebels and the romantics, with the pop factor driven to the max. Compared with their debut, which contained 10-minute epics, this is a fairly simplified affair, with the songs mostly staying within accessible limits. There would nothing be wrong with that approach if there were better all-around melodies. This reminds of recent efforts by such bands as Darkwater or Circus Maximus - competent but bland. To stand out in Dream Theater-type metal, you'd have to have an exceptional sense of melody coupled with technical chops of Seventh Wonder, genre-bending of Haken, or slowed-down groove of Atmosfear's Zenith album.
Report this review (#1265145)
Posted Saturday, August 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Chunks of thorns and dreams"

This album is truly representative of a tormented soul.

"Paint me something grander"

Improving upon the guitar rhythms of "Synthetic" .

"The Nebulous warmth of a world far away"

A truly worthwhile progressive album that hasn't been seen so much as of late.

"Scar-tissued calligraphy"

The emotions come across as true and genuine, not constructed for the sake of "progginess "

"For the first time (Melting the ice that once dominated me)"

Reminds me of listening to my favorite classic prog album for the first time, rejuvenating.

"At first I didn't know what this was or could be"

A grower, took a few listens to appreciate all the dynamics and harmonic interfaces.

"Marching out, reels me in! Consensual lust."

Once the pristine vocals reel you in the accommodating low lines pad your ears with comforting bass blasts.

"But what could make this change?"

After a subdued response to "Synthetic", I think they really wanted to drive their passion for making music home.

"I knew there must be something more."

Doug & Jessica. That is all. Try to find any similar dynamic in prog today, you won't.

"Before they added a little more fire."

Their last album was already a masterpiece, but this is a quantum leap in their songwriting. Developing maturity, heart-wrenching emotional intelligence, and rocking the [%*!#] out. 4.9/5.0

Report this review (#1265972)
Posted Monday, September 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars On the one hand, you could say that the second album from Hemina is more accessible than the first. Which it is. But, on the other hand, there is so much packed into this mighty opus that you could easily find yourself a little dizzy after the first hearing. Like all good prog, the deepest rewards come from subsequent listenings.

In a decade that has old guardians of prog issuing work of little substance (Yes, I think you know who I mean), these guys are not in the business of missing opportunities to add depth, detail, and dynamics whenever it is in the service of taking the listener on a journey of drama and nuance.

This is not prog metal in one flavour; from beginning to end we are guided through multiple sound landscapes with a metal that moves from djent through to steely (sic), but never losing its way as a cohesive whole. Incidentally, speaking of sound landscapes, it turns out Skene is more than a creative front man, he is also a fine sound engineer. The 'outsourced' mixes of the previous album now pale next his own work here.

That these musicians know their instruments could not be questioned, though this album is clearly not intended as music that showcases their respective skills so much as skilful musicianship that showcases the music. (Unless you are still in the sad business of willing Dream Theatre to play 'even faster', it's the right agenda.) And, with every member of Hemina but the drummer pitching in at the microphone, these musicians also know their voices.

Stand out tracks for me; 'Strength' and 'Nightlives'.

Report this review (#1265979)
Posted Monday, September 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hemina, the unsung heroes of Australian progressive music, have done it again and released an album worthy of consideration and comparison alongside their more well known contemporaries. Their sophomore major release, Nebulae, is loaded from start to finish with equal parts melody, musicianship and emotion. Production is strong, also, being in the very capable hands of guitarist and lead vocalist, Douglas Skene.

Another conceptual record, Nebulae is concerned with a journey through dreams. As a result, the songs are representative of the main character's episodic explorations of various facets of their being. From lustful urges to a need for true love, from delusions of something greater to a bad case of megalomania, the story enables music that is as varied as it is cohesive.

Opening with a synth pad slowly faded in, followed by Skene's double-tracked low-register vocal delivery, "Before" quickly sets the tone for the album. A sense of the grander is very effectively communicated by the electronica-fuelled sound field coupled with the climbing and expansive vocal range exhibited in the mere two minutes that this track takes up. Hard-hitting percussive strikes and lyrics such as, "Each day with head in hand seemed like eternity," paint the picture of a character discontented and frustrated with her life.

"Before" leads smoothly into the first full band performance, a song entitled "Nightlives". A busy yet catchy synth lead line, courtesy of Phill Eltakchi, is superimposed upon wide, distorted guitar chord stabs coupled with a syncopated drum pattern welcome us at the song's outset. This contrasts nicely with the following verse section which, whilst remaining interesting instrumentally, leaves ample space for the vocals to be digested easily. Continuing on with the vocals, this song easily has one of the most beautiful chorus sections on the album. Extremely catchy and full of energy, it showcases the band's four-part harmony prowess, and it's one that will certainly get stuck in your head. Following the chorus' second occurrence, another exciting moment can be found where Skene reaches for the song's vocal pitch peak on the word, 'except', over a well-timed sub bass drop.

Following a tasteful guitar-noodling moment reminiscent of John Petrucci's guest appearance at the end of Periphery's "Erised", we are soon greeted by the opening of the album's lead single, "Freedom". A prog metal anthem of sorts, this song is pure energy condensed into a tidy three- minutes that could be easily digested by the masses who may or may not have just been set free. Don't let the apparent accessibility put you off, however, as this song is anything but filler. It's groove and melody galore.

The following track, "Lust", is, in my opinion, is one of the album's stand-out tracks. Effortlessly blending the seemingly disparate worlds of funk and R&B with djent, the resulting experience is fun and inspiring. With a chorus spanning from falsetto to chest to near disruption in the time it takes for one line to be sung, a guitar solo from Skene that would make Guthrie Govan proud and a breakdown so hyper-syncopated it would make the most discerning rhythm-elitist grin, this song is indicative of Hemina successfully pulling out all the stops.

Quality is not lost in the grand statement of love that is "Soulmates". A semi-acoustically-charged ballad, this song feels like the spiritual cousin of "For All Wrong Reasons" off of the band's debut effort, Synthetic. Musically, the song has a great flow. Beautiful melodies feed off of each other like they were always meant to be together and the arrangement is carefully balanced. Lyrically, the wordplay in this song is tremendous. "Will I ever live my life in a lifetime, with a lioness to share my pride and goals?" Just one of many examples. Again, the four-part vocals are in full force for the chorus, however, particularly noteworthy is bassist Jessica Martin's first spotlight on lead vocals. She gives a stunning performance, and the love between her and Skene, who are engaged in real life, is very apparent whilst not hindering the narrative curve of the album - indeed, it fits right in.

Next, we have "Strength". One of the heavier songs, tight grooves speckle the eight-minute second-half kicker. Harmony isn't sacrificed, however. This song has some of the most interesting chord changes and the melodies are festering with the ability to be recalled in the shower. Prog aficionados will rejoice at the song's reprisal of lyrics from the album's opener, and guitarists will marvel at the mastery of Mitch Coull's melodic phrasing in the closing solo.

Another memorable chorus lies in the brooding depths of "Loss". A beautiful melody, again wonderfully harmonised by the rest of the band, with a delightfully unexpected shift in phrasing that, without it, may have rendered its contour as predictable. Lush string orchestration also permeates the bridge section here. This one, I believe, will particularly appeal to fans of Evergrey.

"Hope" follows. The opening reminds one of a similar sound aesthetic used at the start of "The Boy Is Dead" off of the aforementioned debut. This is soon interrupted by glitch-like sound effects reminiscent of old video games that quickly segue into the band on full assault. Dreamily modulated acoustic guitar backs a wonderful guitar solo followed by another deep and expressive Skene vocal. Also dreamlike are the choir voices, drenched in reverb, that serve as an interlude between "Hope" and the following track, "Promise".

Another song clocking in under four-minutes, "Promise" still seems to be bursting with musical goodness. A memorable chorus augmented by Martin exclaiming the word, 'eternally', and ear- catching piano tinkling from Eltakchi during the first verse help make this one another of my favourites from an excellent album. Additionally, we get a bit of nasty from Skene's vocal delivery in the second verse, which is juxtaposed by his boy soprano-like falsetto at the very end ? intended as a sincere compliment.

Closing the album is the eleven-minute epic, "Otherworldly". What I love about this track is how it showcases all four members of the band. Skene does an excellent job on lead vocals as usual, but we also get to hear a verse superbly sung by Eltakchi that climbs down to near-basso profundo territory, sounding quite sexy, really. This is immediately picked up by Coull giving us a verse with his soaring tenor vocals, giving us a taste of what we'd previously only heard to such an extent on the previous album's "With What I See". Later on, we also get a couple of verses from Martin who sounds sublime approaching the heights of contemporary soprano repertoire. Instrumental prowess is not forgotten, however, as there are a plethora of lead lines from the keyboardist and both guitarists with the rhythm section holding it all down.

At the very end, there is a short spoken word section that leaves me eagerly awaiting the next release that will, hopefully, tie together the story arc set by Synthetic and this album, and I hope you will be waiting with me as well. In the meantime? Nebulae ? get on it!

Report this review (#1266021)
Posted Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A return to 1982. Retro classic rock. The lovers of this album must have missed the music of the early 1980s. The sounds and feel of bands like Saga, Styx, Loverboy, 707, Poison, Kiss, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Megadeth, Van Halen, and, yes, even Michael Jackson are very present here. Granted, "Strength" comes at you from a more recent time with a harder edge to it (though the presence of the ghost of Thin Lizzy is very strong here), but the rest of the album left me waiting for something new, something revelatory of this band's mission. If it's merely to exalt in the glory of the aforementioned bands and/or to revive that approach, then count me out this time around. I liked a lot of it ("Before," "Lust," "Loss" and the epic, "Otherworldly"); I just don't feel the need to hear it anymore. A good album. No more no less. Certainly not essential. Not even something that I would recommend. But, as always, check it out for yourself. I'll be curious to see how many people are listening to this regularly ten years from now.
Report this review (#1288443)
Posted Monday, October 6, 2014 | Review Permalink

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