Unapologetically drawing from a vast array of musical influences, from power metal to synth wave to the Backstreet Boys, the unique work of Sydney prog-metal four-piece Hemina, (rhyming with ‘demeanour’), can be ultimately summarised as a constant conceptual push-pull between the light and dark sides of the human psyche, within the confines of genre.
All creative elements are held in fragile balance and are sustained by an urge for artistic change and reinvention, philosophised by lead singer/guitarist Douglas Skene. “[We’re] careful about making sure that each song sounds different”, he said in a recent phone interview. “That’s one of the things that we pride ourselves on. If you have a wide range of influences, it’s hard to pinpoint where things have come from, and you don’t even know yourself, really. It’s fresher.”
Hemina’s latest record, the 9-track, 46 minute epic, Night Echoes, is a fully-realised testament to this creative spirit, for fans of grand, uplifting and cathartic modern metal. Released as the fourth official album for the group, but the second album to be recorded with their new drummer/percussionist/vocalist Nathan McMahon, who designed the band’s new logo, Night Echoes sees Hemina riding a recent creative peak after “the stars [aligned] more”, with the release of 2016’s Venus album. Another thing the group are notable for are their powerful four-part harmony vocals, with singing duties shared by all four touring members of Hemina. This musical trait originally derives from a love of the classic power metal that’s now been mainly outgrown by Doug and his fellow remaining original member Mitch Coull, though Doug tells me that certain trace elements remain, such as the unmistakable sonic grandeur that carries each song.
Right down to the album’s artwork, Night Echoes is stylised by a futuristic and virtuosic uplift of musical spirit. As Doug explains, “I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. I learnt as much as I possibly could about music theory, learning how to write orchestration and that kind of thing.” Further more, these skills ensure that the album’s structural framework is composed authentically and properly. It’s great to hear Hemina successfully blend the hook-filled, economic songwriting of pop music against the deep groove-driven crunch of modern metal by way of the futuristic realms of electronic music.
There happens to be another side to the album, taking the form of a deeply subconscious human tale of grief, loss, and identity.
Night Echoes is also a concept piece focusing on a young man trying to navigate a severely-altered adolescence, caused by the loss of his father to suicide. Through the sweeping solos and pounding double kicks of lead singles ‘We Will’ and ‘What’s The Catch?’, the acoustic ballads and passages of ‘Flat’ and ‘Everything Unsaid’ to the off-kilter and fierce heaviness of ‘In Technicolour’, Night Echoes perfectly encapsulates this tale to leave fans wanting repeat listens. Revealing some moments of beautiful tenderness amongst sections of brilliant intensity, Hemina’s Night Echoes is definitely not for everyone, but the album can’t be denied as an impressive body of work.
The Only Way
What’s the Catch?