French quartet Hypno5e plays sample-infused, slightly “progressive” metal. The scare quotes are unfortunately necessary; the prog element takes the form of complex arrangements and the mixture of the light and the heavy, rather than real innovation.
These guys can play and have some good ideas, but I can’t help but think this release would have done better if it had come out in about 2000. The moments that slant toward djent and deathcore are the most successful; the nü-metal-ish and “prog” ones are much weaker. The use of samples and spoken word is likewise a bit dated. Thus does the title track (which leads off the album) exhibit all the things that are right and wrong with this record: The guitars are heavy, there is some Dillinger-influenced blasting intensity, but the softly crooned sections often kill the buzz. (Sorry, but “don’t worry baby” only works when the Beach Boys are singing about hot rods.)
Bonus points, however, for titling a song “Story of the Eye.” French philosopher/sexual avant-gardist/ author of the book ‘Story of the Eye’ Georges Bataille has inspired Deathspell Omega, Vastum, and a song of the same name by Eyehategod. So this association is good for a nice little frisson of evil and metal verisimilitude, especially for a band who are French themselves. It’s also the best track on the album, heavy and aggressive with some hard-hitting drumming. About halfway through there is a climactic moment intensified by strings that buzz like angry bees; it’s a nice touch.
Things get bad with the two suites that end the album, the 3-part “Gehenne” and the 2-part “Brume Unique Obscurité.” They’re just too long, too soporific, too boring in the soft parts—and the sterile metallic parts can’t make up for it and save them. There is no emotional connection created (the somewhat low position in the given to the vocals mix seems to make this a bit worse), so there is no epic feel. They’re just long. I appreciate the idea of going for a diverse sound, light & shade being an important part of the heritage of metal going back to Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi.
But when you can crush and slam like Hypno5e can, then you should embrace it and to hell with excessive exposition. I would love to hear these guys bash heads for more than a few seconds at a time. I hope I will get to in the future; I think they have a good record in them yet.