HEMINA - Night Echoes

Hemina - Night Echoes

9 songs
45:43 minutes
***** ****


When it comes to progressive metal, it is harder and harder for bands to set new accents. Too often old patterns are repeated, and the music becomes stale, actually the opposite of progressive. A band that I have always rather liked is Hemina from Sydney in Australia. They have been around for a little over ten years and have released every two or three years a new album, Night Echoes being their fourth longplayer. Unlike their previous efforts which were always between sixty and eighty minutes long, Hemina have decided to cut the fat and leave the audience with more concise songs, a little like Rush did in the Eighties. This is of course a dangerous endeavour, because many people associate progressive metal with epic structures, but be assured: Hemina not only keep the quality, but have improved on everything they ever did before.

Hemina is one of those lucky bands that has a rather stable line-up, and that shows when listening to their new album. Vocals are shared between the two (male) guitarists and the (female) bassist, all of which not only have tremendous voices, but also harmonise in a way never heard before in metal. The album begins with a couple of prog metal songs with a definitive pop edge, something which could be fatal for lesser bands, but in the hands of Hemina, this only enhances their sound. The opener The Only Way is at five and a half minutes still one of the longer songs, and combines modern progressive metal with djent elements with an incredibly catchy and moving chorus, without falling into the trappings of whininess that younger melodic metalcore are so often the victims of. The following What’s The Catch? is at three and a half minutes truly short for a progressive metal track, and it shows the band from its most pop side, again without giving up the drive they need to make this another perfect song. We Will is a more progressive song again, with sublimely complex multi-layered vocal lines. I feel reminded somewhat of the better things by Devin Townsend. One Short sees the band unbelievably flirting with gospel sound, transporting me back to the late Eighties when King’s X did something similar to huge success. With Flat, we get a first break. This semi-ballad shows that although Hemina also manage the slower parts, they are at their most ground-breaking when they let it all out, like with the soulful vocals in the middle of this nearly six minute long track. Everything Unsaid is a not even two-minute-long acoustic guitar ballad that feels like Hemina’s take on Extreme’s More Than Words. It’s short, so it doesn’t hurt that much. And then we’re back to longer tracks again, with Nostalgia being a rather heady prog metal track with some jazz fusion elements. In Technicolour is at nearly ten minutes the album’s magnum opus and enchants with tons of melodic/melancholic melody lines. The album ends with Flicker, a heavier track that ends the album in proper fashion.

The cover artwork looks like one of those countless new retro synthwave bands, and Hemina don’t hide the fact that this genre has influenced them. They even changed their logo into something less metal. And yet the music is still progressive metal, albeit with a lot of added elements from pop, gospel, R&B, jazz, fusion and some more. Night Echoes, although not very long, seems to consist of three different parts: a catchy first act, a more serene second part and a brainier, more rocking final conclusion. Where their previous albums’ hour long lengths made it hard to really get into every nook and cranny, Night Echoes is a more immediate piece of progressive metal that still have a lot of details that will reveal themselves only after repeated listening. When it comes to progressive metal, there are few band out there that can take it up with the combined genius of Hemina.

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