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Hibernal The Machine album cover
3.93 | 75 ratings | 11 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. This High (2:26)
2. Downward (8:34)
3. An Open Door (4:34)
4. Home (3:03)
5. Losing Touch (7:28)
6. Hard at Work (1:46)
7. No Return (5:49)
8. One Last Glimpse (2:45)
9. Disconnection (10:00)
10. Years (1:53)
11. The Coldness (8:49)

Total Time: 57:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Healy / composer, performer, mixing

- Rowan Michaels / narrator
- Samantha Béart / voice of Jane
- Robert Blythe / voice of Mr. Wilkins

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Based on the short story 'Welcome to the Machine' by Mark Healy ©2002

Artwork: Mark Healy with Roger Schultz (photo)

CD self released (2013, Australia)

Thanks to aapatsos for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HIBERNAL The Machine ratings distribution

(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

HIBERNAL The Machine reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
5 stars I'm very excited that Hibernal is finally on Prog-Archives! I've been letting this album really settle in my brain. "The Machine" is that kind of album. On my new Facebook page; The Prog Mind, I received a message from this Aussie prog project called Hibernal. First of all, that is an awesome name. Anyways, this is a solo project for one of the members here at PA: He wrote and played everything on the album, and I believe he even did the artwork. Now, I keep calling it a "project" because it has an interesting premise: melodic prog rock mixed with the spoken word. It's almost like a theatrical play with musical interludes. I was intrigued, to say the least. The only similar attempts I've heard were by Jeff Wayne and his "War of the Worlds" album, and also Joseph Magazine's "Night of the Red Sky", which featured amazing progressive rock/metal with several philosophical quotations dispersed here and there.

Since the story seems to be the focus here, I'll start with that. This story has a very sci fi ring to it, though I'm not sure if it's supposed to be set in the future or not. The tone almost reminds me of Cynthesis' debut album "DeEvolution". I don't want to give anything away, especially since it would be like spoiling a movie, but the story covers the consequences of success, ambition, and misplaced priorities. It also speaks to the corporate slavery that is so prevalent in our world today. The journey follows a man as he receives a mysterious promotion at his place of work, The Machine: Thus begins his descent into darkness, loneliness, detachment, and apathy. Every step of the way, I was at attention: The story is so intriguing and so well told and acted that I was mesmerized; always eager to hear the next bit of the story. This remains true even on multiple listens.

Now, this theater-worthy story also contains plenty of interludes. Music takes up the vast portion of the album, so don't worry about that. The music, however, is an appropriate tool to help tell the story. The prog rock generally sounds a little sci fi with soaring guitars, some heavy riffing, various delicate passages, and lots of background effects. There is a distinct hum to the whole album that makes it feel alive and complete. All in all, the musical passages are very well-done and catching, while the music that interweaves with the voice actors is always appropriate and uplifts the story perfectly. This album can transfer from finger-splitting solos to melodic interludes in the blink of an eye.

So, Hibernal's attempt at creating this unique project is a complete success. There are moments during the story that I can feel a wave of emotion flow over my nervous system, especially on the track "Disconnection". It gets me every time, too. Yet, you can feel the emotion in the music itself: the sorrow, loneliness, and pain. The album ends on a rather thought-provoking note, and I can only hope Hibernal decides to write more to the story. If you want to experience something different and also genius, take the time to experience this mesmerizing journey. It is certainly one of my favorites so far this year.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Very pleasant surprise by the very creative one-man band Mark Healy and his cast of professional voice talent cast, that produce an album quite different from a lot of progressive rock that you hear these days. An art concept on a whole, rather than solely a music album, 'The Machine' takes you to the journey of a man in modern day business in a compelling story that stunned me at a first listen.

No real "lyrics" here as such, rather a dark narrative that flows through instrumental post/heavy progressive rock, that unveils as you go along; although I am tempted to tell you the story, I would rather leave you discover it. The guitar style reminds of Porcupine Tree (see 'Losing Touch') in the - relatively scarce heavy moments and rather focuses on atmospheres reminiscent of Pink Floyd and the modern post rock bands that are influenced by them, peaking at the closing track where this style is fully expressed.

The power of acoustic guitars must be emphasised ('Home', 'Disconnection') as they play a pivotal role here. The strength of this album is found in the linking-up of the pieces and not on the complexity of composition or the production; the latter two tend to be the weaker points, which fortunately do not undermine the effort as a whole. The movie-like feeling, in a way similar to RAIN's "Cerulean Blue" is very exciting and somewhat stronger than the music itself.

Even if it is for once, give "The Machine" a spin and find out the concept.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Welcome to The Machine.

Hibernal is the brainchild of musician, writer and visionary Mark Healey, from Brisbane Australia. His project "The Machine" is a masterful concept album of cinematic proportions, unfolding as a compelling narrative using complex musical structures, special sound effects and unforgettable dialogue, professionally delivered by the likes of Rowan Michaels as Narrator, Samantha Béart as Jane, and Robert Blythe as Mr Wilkins. The dialogue comes in mostly at the intro of each musical piece and the story is very easy to follow and involves a haunting conceptual idea, that a man may be recruited by a malicious secret organisation with malevolent intentions. The employee soon finds himself caught up in a horrifying web without escape, as the company takes away his humanity piece by piece even replacing his human self with mechanized robotic parts including his hand, legs and heart among other pieces. Invariably the man finds the world he once knew being slowly eradicated into a shadowy memory, including his lady Jane.

The main component that really shines out on this album is the professional handling of the dialogue that is dramatically handled by all involved. Dialogue is delivered with empathy by the benevolent Jane who is pained by seeing her partner becoming more distant. Mr Wilkins is a shady character with a mystique behind his evil tones as he controls his employees without remorse or humanity; perhaps he is machine like himself. Finally there is the Narrator that has a comforting resonance and feels totally reliable as he relays the chilling tale of how he was inducted into the organisation, we feel his excitement as he is promoted, and we sense his despair as he faces the demise of his human self as the company virtually swallows him whole. The conspiracy is prominent and may be allegorical to any organisation that controls its subjects like a cult. On every listen I am totally captivated by the story and it retains a power upon the senses causing one to question what occurred to this man, and indeed who is this company that exists to turn its employees into machines to work without thought. It may be an allegory of the working class being controlled by the upper class, but in any case it has sci-fi elements that are unmistakable, and yet it reads as a modern day fable of oppression in a government controlled system; the mechanization of society by an all controlling power.

The music works very well to convey the emotions and bleakness of the tale. It begins with hypnotic guitar motifs, a steady pace and ethereal tones of synthesizer. There are melancholy acoustic vibrations and piano in some early parts as Jane fights to understand her estranged husband. The first tracks 'This High', 'Downward' and 'An Open Door' are integral as they tell how the employee is taken to Sub level 19, gains a machine hand modification and finds himself climbing the ladder of success literally as he ascends higher in the glass tower; the higher one goes the more power they are given.

As the tale becomes darker the music transcends into darker passages of distorted metal guitar and a pulsating bassline. 'Downward' features an extended lead break with scintillating fret work and grinding distortion; some of the best lead work on offer. On 'Home' Jane realises her husband is becoming lost in his work to the point where they barely see each other. The guitar melody is acoustically driven emoting a bleak tone, then a reverberating lead guitar resounds with a wonderful resonance. I particularly like the tension between Jane and Narrator. A definitive highlight of the album is 'Losing Touch' that has so many time sig changes and mood swings it represents the feelings of the protagonist. The music is faster and more aggressive, metal on metal and a driving rock beat shine forth. The bassline is awesome reminding me of the work of Geddy Lee or John Myung in places. The Narrator ascends to level 87 and is now a more efficient worker typing with just his machine hand now. The distorted guitar is well executed here and the heavy approach is akin to the heavy emotions of the worker. The excellent track ends with a swirling synthesizer with a melancholy atmosphere.

'Hard at Work' begins with a phone machine message where Jane complains that her husband did not do some repairs so she did them anyway; he is obviously too occupied with the company now to be tangles up in relationships. 'No Return' sees the employee given new improvements to his legs, now a machine leg replaces the other giving him more speed and agility, to be a more proficient worker. The music settles into a measured cadence that slowly ebbs with the sadness that the man has become trapped in the mechanism of the company. The lead guitar is played with finesse along the doomy bass and clashing cymbals; some of the finest musicianship by Healey.

'One Last Glimpse' opens with the Narrator stating he began to forget things, his knowledge and skill at work only improved with the improvements, but he didn't care about his family life, and that made it difficult for him to realise that at some point Jane left him. The next piece of music transfixes with its minor chord structure and Mellotron sounds; absolutely haunting melodies that augment the storyline so eloquently.

'Disconnection' is a mini epic clocking 10 minutes, beginning with a beautiful guitar delay that always captures my ears. Another highlight of the album, the music is outstanding with the lead guitar embellishments over a soundscape of swathes of synthesizers. The narrative is now more urgent as the man mentions how he was lapsing in and out of consciousness, as he engaged in meetings at the upper level, becoming a man who was on automatic pilot, controlled totally by what the company wanted. He is promoted to level 163 and more upgrades are made, and as he looked down from his ivory tower at the people below him he marvels at how inferior they have become. The phase effect on the guitar mimics this automated state perfectly and there is a downbeat melody with a hard razor edge. At this point of the album I am in awe at how compelling this story is to my senses; it speaks so much of the automation of life locked in a system controlled by the upper elite; a conspiracy of mammoth proportions. The most chilling part of the album occurs in this segment when a woman meets up with the Narrator and he wants her just to get on and state her business. He doesn't recognise that the woman is actually his ex-wife. The acoustic flourishes lock in after this, representing the shred of emotion that the man may feel or perhaps it is Jane's state of mind as she realises her husband is hopelessly lost. We hear fragments of memories that echo like scattered distant recollections. The story reminds me somewhat of "Total Recall", "Vanilla Sky", or "I, Robot" in some ways, yet it has an original edge playing out like an Asimov or Moorcock short story, or a "Twilight Zone" episode, or "Prisoner", where a man faces incredible odds and fights to make sense of it all. It also reminded me of the movie "Brazil", especially with the secretive corporation that are a destructive force to those who try and recoil from the system.

'Years' sees the Narrator promoted to level 201 and the return of Mr Wilkins is most welcome. The Narrator has been with the company 24 years at this point which shocks him. He is promoted to Sub level 19 where Wilkins tells him "the transaction will be complete? there are more modifications that can be done". 'The Coldness' is the final piece of the mystery, and has a powerful ending that I do not want to give away here. Suffice it to say it is totally appropriate and leaves a lasting impression. There are some stunning plot twists in this section and it certainly leaves one with a number of tantalising questions; that may or may not have an answer. It leaves me with a disquieting discomfort, as all good sci-fi's should. I find myself pondering: What is the final state of the main protagonist? What is Jane's part in all this? Is she part of The Machine Corporation? If so, what is to become of her and her husband? What are all the flashes of memory and soundbites that the protagonist hears? Is this another life or something more sinister? Who is in charge of the corporation and what work do they do? Why does the protagonist need a mechanical hand and leg, and what exactly does he do that is so important? The most potent question of all is are we part of the corporation and we do not even know it?

"The Machine" is an album I have not tired of in all my many listens. On first listen I was mesmerised by the tale, and by the fourth listen I was delighted to relive this dark tale of man becoming machine. I always look forward to returning to this album as it encompasses so much in its short time span. The music is absolutely hypnotic and while there are no songs, it doesn't matter, as the tale is so well told by the players, each a superlative voice that enhances the enjoyment and adds to the mystery. There are no components of the album that grate on the nerves, nothing becomes frustrating or annoying as it captivates in the imagination and must be heard from beginning to end to appreciate the full power of the thought provoking tale. It would be worth making into a short movie available on a deluxe edition. I would state this album as being one of the masterpieces of the year; a sublime journey into dark and mysterious things, a nightmarish vision of a possible future where machines will take over slowly and we become part of the machine.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars It takes quite a bit to actually make me stop and play close attention, but I found myself doing just that when I allowed myself to fall headlong into the world of Mark Healy's creation. I'm not quite sure how to describe this, as it is way more than a concept album, and in many ways is almost a play with the music being an integral part, another actor. This is an album based on an original short story, and is all about what happens to someone as they quite literally climb the corporate ladder and the sacrifices that they have to make to achieve success, although that success in itself is much more in their own eyes as opposed to those of their loved ones. The first time I played this was in the car and I found myself somehow at home, having driven on auto-pilot for much of it, but before the album had ended. The next morning I put it on again, but started once again at the beginning so that I could get the full benefit of listening to it all the way through (and also making sure that I paid more attention to the road this time).

It is a science fiction story, set at some point in the near future, with a first person narration for the most part, along with some additional key characters. Mark has provided all of the music, as well as the artwork, but for some reason brought in others to play the roles and Rowan Michaels in the lead role has done an outstanding job. At times quite Floydian, and others more Gong or Porcupine Tree, this is something that in many ways in quite a different art form in that it is neither a story or music, but is far more compelling and intriguing than both. At times simplistic, yet at others quite complex, this is the perfect marriage between spoken words and music, so much so that each time I play it I find myself having to almost shake myself when it finishes, as I have been taken so much into Mark's world.

This is something I have enjoyed immensely, and I look forward to his next project with great interest.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow, wasn't really expecting anything from Hibernal's debut album The Machine (2013). It is so that it took me one year to actually listen to it!

This Australian one-man band (Mark Healy) is something to pay attention to. It's a mix of calm Progressive Rock with edger parts and a bit of Post Rock and Ambient music that tells a very intriguing story based on the short story called Welcome To The Machine by Mark Healy himself.

I always liked this kind of telling stories albums, and that's what The Machine (2013) is, there's no vocals on it really, just a narration of facts and a very interesting music that passes smoothly as we wait for the end of the story.

The tale is about a man working in a company that little by little becomes a machine as he's promoted, a sci-fi tale that, in a way, is not that far away from reality.

After this one I'm really curious about his new album Replacements (2014)!

Totally woeth to check it:

Latest members reviews

5 stars I thought this album deserved my time to write a review. Why? Well, because I haven't heard an album like it in 2013. Actually, I didn't hear one like it last year or the year before either. What we have with Hibernal's 'The Machine' is something totally out of left field. Combining narrati ... (read more)

Report this review (#1081669) | Posted by peterpea | Monday, November 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

1 stars *** EHNC ALERT *** Ugh! (I don't think I've ever used that word in a sentence before.) I think the mission on this site is twofold: 1) Recommend the good and 2) Forestall the bad. And while the former should be entered into with great fervor, the latter should be undertaken only when necess ... (read more)

Report this review (#1071248) | Posted by fuqxit | Sunday, November 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Australian music project Hibernal is driven by multi-instrumentalist and fellow PA- member Mark Healy. His debut album is a true concept album, which contains an actual story being told throughout the album, and in between long sections of heavy post-rock. The Machine is a sci-fi tale about ... (read more)

Report this review (#1039668) | Posted by twseel | Thursday, September 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars (7/10) Hibernal is the name of the 'band', but really it's a mostly one-man project. The man behind Hibernal is Australian Mark Healy. As far as I'm aware, "The Machine" is his first effort, and has deservedly garnered some attention and praise recently. I listened to the album on BandCamp and wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#1033992) | Posted by ScorchedFirth | Friday, September 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 6.5/10 First I want to thank Mark Healy for giving me the chance to be able to review your album is really a rewarding opportunity. I wish you all luck to continue to invest in your project. That said, let the album. What have we here? An instrumental work-conceptual, but different from th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1025127) | Posted by voliveira | Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Mark Healy, congratulations for your project HIBERNAL, amazing. About the album, one of the genres I enjoy listening to is post rock (Godspeed You Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, among my favorite bands), there are many bands that normally sound repetitive and sometimes it is ... (read more)

Report this review (#1012234) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Tuesday, August 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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