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Hyvmine - 'Earthquake' Album Review


1. Shift

2. Mirror Master

3. Shogun

4. All Of Creation

5. Earthquake

6. Fire Escape

7. Elysium

8. Great Divide

9. Cliffhanger

When this landed in my inbox I looked at the cover, the band name and the song titles and a style of music formed in my head, I thought "I know what this will sound like already" I played it (as is standard when intending to review an album) expecting a certain sound... that is (thankfully) not what I heard. Rather than the Djent-tech-metalfest, I was expecting Hyvemine appear to be an excellent modern Prog Rock band, what I heard was incredibly skilfully executed music, each song is replete with internal movement and emotive changes in a thoroughly satisfying way.

The album opens gently with the intro to 'Shift' a semi-electronic haze of noise gives way to a smattering of piano with the guitars bass and drums joining in to give weight to the riffs, enter the vocals and 'Shift' becomes an excellent introduction to the sound of Hyvemine, vocal harmonies, guitar harmonies, so much melody mixed in with a heavy and deep drum and bass groove, there is an interesting contrast here between what seems to be a broad span of influences.

Each song is it's own musical/lyrical journey, we have melodic runs aplenty which don't feel tacked on or put in just to show off (a fortuitous side effect then?), riffs trade between guitars and keys occasionally both, occasionally one into the other but the rhythm section are having their own party here, not resting on the beat, playing with it wherever appropriate. 'Shogun' (the apparent single, certainly the one they have a video for) has a brutal rhythm that gives way occasionally to the vocal harmonies which made me think of King's X but heavier and with synth lead lines.

The band feature L.A. based guitarist and guitar teacher Al Joseph (an incredibly talented guy of whom I was unaware until hearing this), but while his skills are very much in evidence here Hyvemine are certainly not a vehicle for his own guitar histrionics as everyone has an opportunity to shine here making the band accessible enough musically to interest the casual observer as well as the "Guitar geeks" among us (I'm not one of those types despite my background). Not since Alex Lifeson's Victor has a musical project based around a guitar virtuoso been so well balanced and invited re-listening so much in my opinion.

There's a new generation of well-schooled musicians starting bands at the moment all over the world it seems to be the "School Of Rock" generation coming of age, one might expect this to be a bad thing but far from it, what we now have is new bands who want to play something they find interesting but know exactly how harmony and melody can work, what you find is a generation of musicians good enough to play along with seasoned Jazz professionals, but who want to play within the Rock genre. So, do I recommend Hyvemine? Well, this is not just a "must listen" if you're a guitar geek it's also well worth checking out for any fans of Modern or Progressive Rock.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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