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Hibernal - After The Winter CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

4.06 | 39 ratings

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Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Back in 2013, I ran into Mark Healy over at He was busy creating his own unique take on progressive rock: an audio theater experience set against the backdrop of progressive post-rock. Needless to say, "The Machine" floored me. The next year, "Replacements", his second album, made me fall in love even further. And now, after authoring a trilogy of novels, Mark has released his third album, "After the Winter". Does it live up to the rest of his discography?

Mark is a genius. His love for sci-fi, especially Blade Runner, is apparent. Like me, he is fascinated with the idea of sentient androids: the delicate image of human life intertwined with the raw mechanics of a machine. "After the Winter" is no different, though the setting has changed somewhat. Instead of the bustling future city of the first two albums, this record takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where all humans have eradicated from the earth. The story follows a pair of androids who were created to be carriers for the souls and minds of human beings: a way of safeguarding humanity until the world would be more hospitable. This pair, Brant and Arsha, is searching for the key to rejuvenating their real bodies, obviously with hopes of beginning something new. In the course of events; failed ventures, surprising twists, and emotional moments abound. Mark has certainly done an amazing job of sucking his listeners in once again.

On the music side of things, I find that the tracks are a bit more subdued. In fact, I feel like there are moments with no music at all, and the result is a mixed bag. Sometimes, it heightens the drama, and other times I feel that it creates a vacuum that needs filled. Mark does an awesome job on guitars once again. This time around, I feel like his writing skills and especially his leads are stronger and have more presence. The solos present are extremely good, too. One of the best representations of this is "Worn", a really special track both lyrically and musically. Rowan Salt on bass also does an even better job than last time, as his presence and real impact on the song structures cannot be ignored. Ethereal, satisfying, and familiar, "After the Winter" might be Hibernal's strongest outing on the musical front overall.

There is something, however, that has been nagging me about this album. As good as it is, I just can't seem to like the voice acting for Brant's character done by Brad Everett. One of the hallmarks of the previous two albums was the unique voice cast, especially the main character. They were perfectly directed and just very easy to relate to as I listened. Brad, however, has a very generic slant to his voice that makes me wince. This is too bad, as Arsha's actress, played by Hibernal alumni Faleena Hopkins, is emotionally pungent and spot on with her delivery. Ultimately, Brad's performance has lessened my enjoyment of what is otherwise another perfect entry from Hibernal.

I must mention my love for the two track song "Displacement". Within this track, the greatest mysteries are revealed and possibly the best instrumental appears. In addition, I am in love with the ending of the album (for reasons that will probably wait until a spotlight on The PROG Mind). It is filled with something very different from the last two albums: hope and rejuvenation of spirit. Indeed, "After the Winter" has a different sort of progression and tone, and so I can't wait to see where Mark will take this story next. Cheers, Mark. You have a fan for life.

Originally written for

Second Life Syndrome | 4/5 |


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