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Articles : “We don’t need too much tough guy metal stuff.” – An Interview with Hemina

By on July 23, 2019

The world of heavy music is a pretty macho one, some might say quite sexist at times. Women’s involvement in the genre, and even attitudes and behaviours perceived as being anything less than hyper-masculine, are often disdained and ridiculed in certain, very close-minded sections of the metal community. Some bands however, proudly and defiantly extend their middle finger to such attitudes. One of those is Sydney prog metal outfit Hemina.

“I think we’ve always been pretty good at not pigeonholing the sound,” begins Douglas Skene, the band’s frontman and lead guitarist, on the eve of the release of their brand new album Night Echoes, “and pretty good at putting some sounds in there that you don’t often hear. We’re also pretty prepared to not be too manly with the sounds too, we don’t need too much tough guy metal stuff.

“We’ve got a female in the band, we’ve even got male vocals that sometimes sound female as well!” He laughs.

Three years in the making, Night Echoes is an excellent slab of highly melodic progressive heavy music with many twists and turns and surprising elements, and one of the most impressive things about it is the fact that it is entirely self-produced.

“I think we enjoy doing that as a band,” Skene explains, “it kinda makes sense from a financial perspective, but also the mixing and producing stuff had always been part and parcel of music to me. I always wanted to get into that side of things too. It gives me a chance every album to step up the production skills. I’m working on other people’s albums in between as well, trying to balance that all with a non-musical day job.

“You may not get things as super-polished as a top end producer would, but it gives you a bit more of a unique sound sometimes, you don’t have as much of the cookie cutter sound if you do it yourself.”

Skene believes that there are a number of unique elements that their band displays that a young fan of melodic and progressive heavy music out there, who maybe hadn’t heard of Hemina before, might be attracted to within the grooves of this record. “I think there’s a few things that we do pretty uniquely, but definitely the thing that really jumps out is the vocal harmonies,” he muses, “that’s something that we’ve been doing for a while, and we’ve had it no matter what our band lineup has been. The core members, Mitch and Jess and I, we’ve always had that vocal signature. So if you want to hear those type of melodies and a heartfelt emotional side to the prog, with a little bit of shred and all that in there, but it’s not really focusing on that, that might be something that jumps out to some fans.

“And I think the blend of influences that we have gives us a different sound as well. It’s still modern prog metal, but we have some of those 80s references, some of the older prog in there, and maybe even some of the more modern rock stuff too. I guess Jess and I were both heavily into the whole alternative rock and pop punk stuff when we first started playing. There’s probably something there for the jazzier people as well, the more advanced chords and harmonies. We’re into that too.”

At the same time, it’s a smooth, cohesive work. “It’s a real melting pot, but it’s not like it’s a new genre every song or every section of a song either, it’s not that schizophrenic.”

As far as the lyrics, concept and imagery of the record go, Night Echoes definitely has something meaningful to say as well, with a number of in-depth themes tying it all together. “I’m impressed with a lot of movie directors how they build this universe of stories, even if a movie is not directly connected to another one, it’s kid of expanding on this general universe, I’ve always liked the idea of that.

“The concepts of all the albums are kind of attached in a loose way together. The boy in this story, who the concept is focused around, is the child of a couple of the characters who were in the previous albums, so we’re kind of expanding this idea out.”

At the time of writing, there are no live dates announced, but that is to come very shortly, so keep an eye on the band’s website, social media and so on. Aside from that, writing for Hemina’s album number five is already underway. Skene has a sense of pride that his band has made it to four albums with a fifth on the way, when many bands don’t get anywhere near that in their careers.

“You definitely try to put your achievements into perspective sometimes,” he says, “it’s very easy to be self-critical at times. I just recently turned 30, and it sounds like I’m sooking a little bit about that, but it kind of feels like your life is put into some kind of philosophical perspective. Sometimes I feel like I could have done so much more with my life, but there are a lot of good achievements in there as well, and I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve got to four albums so far.”


Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.