Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hyperial - Industry (2012)

To many of us, music is all about atmosphere. This is particularly true in an art form as abstract and volatile as extreme metal tends to be, but the more you listen, the more you realize just how hard it is to conjure a unique flavor. Often, we take the overarching feeling of a style for granted to a degree that it has a tendency to become a caricature, as is evidenced by a lot of incestuous black, death, and power metal. As the lines blur, however, we’re seeing more and more bands attempt to redefine just what we think of as genre, or reconfigure established tropes into new and exciting ways. While of course derivation is, and always will be prevalent, persisting mainly today in the insultingly shallow realm of metalcore, some bands have even built entirely new universes to play in, such as Gojira, Enslaved, or Ihsahn. Poland’s Hyperial, however, have crafted a stellar EP here that harvests aesthetics from a host of sources, re-configuring them to work in sync in a very compelling, often unique way, making these 23 minutes both a lot of fun, and an interesting statement concerning the prospect of future material. They’ve got a good thing going here, and I would be quite intrigued to see this hybridization develop further.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, am I not? What is this coagulation? To which previously defined styles and templates do Hyperial owe allegiance? Well, the answers are many, and may seem conflicting at a glance, but bear with me. Industry stirs emanations of Behemoth, Meshuggah, Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, and even a tinge of Gothenburg-inspired keyboard backdrops, lightly akin to something like Soilwork, into a compression chamber of its own diabolical design, and extracts the most fitting elements to construct its own doomsday serum. The frame for this portrait of mechanistic damnation is the groove-carving, pummeling slabs of death metal chords, clearly inspired by Meshuggah, or perhaps their countrymen Decapitated, but in no way succumbing to the weighty moniker of ‘djent’, and indeed, this aspect is only skeletal. From there, Hyperial lays on a host of weighty, hellish chords that feel both searing and flowing, drawing the favorable comparisons to their better-known colleagues in Behemoth. For added atmosphere, the keys provide a shifting, pseudo-industrial cloak, which garbs the songs in the more embellished elements of the over-arching thematic attire. The Greek exceptions above mainly play into the sense of pomp and grandiosity in the innate structuring of these 6 dynamic tracks.

Industry is perhaps a very fitting name for this short yet exquisite audible feast, as the prevailing flavor is one of twisted industrial carnage, wrought by the interlocking, subterranean grooves of the core instrumentation, and the vibrant juxtaposition of constant electronics. Topping off this equation, the raw, strained rage of the vocals paint an agonized portrait of life trapped in some cyborg dystopia, as the songs both glide and grind through myriad structural and tonal changes. It’s nothing incredibly jarring or overly dramatic, but the sensation of discovery is always enough to keep the record feeling fresh for its short duration. The individual players here should be commended for not only their prowess in pure physical skill, as this record contains some strong, semi-technical force, but in the cohesion in writing and vision, which conveys their imagined world as much through aesthetic as it does through notation.

An atmosphere as realized as the one on Industry is not easy to accomplish, and this, as much as musical appreciation, has colored my opinion of Hyperial entirely positive. Industry is no masterpiece, granted, it does not redefine my love for metal or cry out for infinite repetition, but what it has done is cement Hyperial in my consciousness as a band with serious potential. As a statement of intended mission and a show of conceivable force, this EP is pretty much limitless, and very exciting. If any of this at all has piqued your interest, please give these Poles a fighting chance, as their form of expression in the metal world is very creative. This undeniable spark of vision, however, when combined with the bands obvious (yet, excitingly, still developing) skills as intriguing songwriters, willing and able to utilize existing techniques and ideas and mutate them for both experimentation and application, is a hallmark of some of the best artists in our medium. I’m not attributing this distinction to Hyperial just yet, mind you, but I find their blend of extremity extremely palatable, and I feel they deserve the chance to bring their aspirations to fruition.

8.5 / 10 - Eloquent Atmospherics