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Album Reviews : Hemina – As We Know It

By on August 24, 2010

Some people run in fear as they see the term ‘prog’ put in front of their favourite, and they can hardly be blamed when almost every band at some stage or another refer to their music as having progressive influences. To some extent the term has lost much of its meaning in today’s metal world, but it is not lost on Sydney band Hemina.

The five piece band have only been around for a short time, but their debut EP ‘As We Know It’ demonstrates a refined sound that is on par with some of the most revered veteran prog bands. Kudos have to be given to Lord Tim (of Australian band LORD), who has clearly put a lot of effort into mastering and mixing the EP at SLS Studios in Wollongong. Whilst it only has five tracks on it, this is just a sample of what fans can expect from the band’s debut album ‘Synthetic’, expected to be released in 2011.

The band claim influences such as Pain of Salvation and Dream Theater, but their sound can be more closely likened to modern day legends Ayreon and even classic prog rock veterans Hawkwind. There is even a slight Pagan influence that reminds me of fellow Sydney band Ironwood.

The opening track ‘Lonesome Angel’ is a short, electronic introductory track with choir like vocals provided by lead singer/guitarist Douglas Skene, guitarist/vocalist Mitch Coull, keyboardist/vocalist Phillip Eltakchi and bassist/backing vocalist Jessica Martin. This leads into the following track ‘And Now to Find a Friend’, which is in my opinion the band’s masterpiece. In true prog style this track is eleven minutes long, incorporates classic 80s movie styled synths and it flawlessly progresses through contrasting moods, atmospheres and styles. Douglas Skene’s vocals are epic, gentle and at times downright beautiful (I say this at risk of sounding completely un-metal), and the latter half of this song brings out the best in his talents as the instrumental backup is minimal and his vocals take on an almost Freddie Mercury-like beauty.

This track effortlessly flows into the next, adding to the conceptual style of story telling that the band have incorporated into their music. ‘For All Wrong Reasons’ is a more melodic track that progressively builds from a minimalistic sound into a dense, rich, atmospheric soundscape that is quite hypnotic in its serenity, made all the more brilliant with the addition of a high flying guitar solo.

‘With What I See’ is as amazing as the previous two tracks, and the one that could most likely make a successful single. Full of powerful energy, the vocals are almost like a duet between vocalists Skene and Coull as their voices harmonize and weave amongst one another.

Hemina don’t show off the technical prowess that a lot of progressive bands do today, but maybe this is what keeps this entire EP interesting from start to finish, without even a hint of becoming stale. Whereas some bands choose to go off on queer and unnecessary tangents of musical wankery, Hemina stay tight and focused from start to finish.

Rarely does a band come along and offer something that sounds so fresh, and so invigorating in today’s cut and paste music world. It is bands like Hemina that are keeping ‘true’ progressive metal alive, whilst still pushing against its boundaries. If the upcoming debut album ‘Synthetic’ can be as brilliant as this little sample of songs, then little will be able to stand in the way of Hemina as they rise to the top of the Australian music scene before moving onto bigger, international territories. 9.5/10

Band: Hemina
Album: As We Know It EP
Year: 2010
Genre: Progressive Metal
Origin: Sydney, Australia
Label: Independent
http://www.myspace.com/heminaaus

Tracklisting:

1. Lonesome Angel
2. And Now to Find a Friend <-Reviewer’s Choice
3. For All Wrong Reasons
4. With What I See
5. The Hunt

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.