Hung is the metal band of violinist Lyris Hung (of Trans-Siberian Orchestra). I have to compliment her on this fusion; it can’t be easy to incorporate violin into modern metal but on this self-titled release it’s done well.
Right off the bat in ‘Eos’ we’re greeted by violin melodies that remind me of the violin work incorporated into Steve Turre’s Latin jazz. That is, they are wistful and a bit “world”—not Yngwie-inspired or power metal-sounding as one might be forgiven for expecting when thinking of “violin metal”.
Elsewhere on “Hung” we hear Ihsahn-and-Opeth (mid period)-style prog metal executed with a very high level of instrumental proficiency. In fact, fans of these two will most likely take to Hung right away. The vocals are mostly growled, but are competent, powerful and varied overall; ‘Matter of the Blood’ features some cool clean vocal/violin interplay.
The violin does take some getting used to, though, as it’s mixed prominently (rather than merely as a compliment to the rest of the band) and at times plays right along with distorted guitars. Its sound however, is conveyed without the use of any guitar-like effects—no distortion or heavy multi-tracking to make it more metallic or fatter. This strikes me as a bold and correct choice; to let the violin be what it is, and to allow the listener the opportunity to appreciate the musical concept in a natural way.
Hung is definitely shredding at times, but it’s not a musicians-only chops fest. The composition and performance exhibit the level of restraint that will allow this band to appeal to a wider cross-section of the metal community. Still, the type of fan whose enjoyment depends at least in part upon the availability of technical detail that the ear can newly discover over the course of several listening sessions will not be disappointed.
If you find yourself wondering where the increasingly saturated metal genre can go next, Hung is the kind of release you should be listening to. It may not be the definitive answer to that query, but it certainly asks the right questions.