Hypnos - Heretic CommandoTo those who aren’t in the know, Hypnos are a band hailing from the Czech Republic that were originally formed from ex Krabathor members. They had split in 2006, but have since reformed and made the ‘Halfway To Hell’ EP a couple of years ago. Now, they have returned with their latest album ‘Heretic Commando’.

Musically, they’re an interesting beast. To my ears, they’re not entirely original but I believe there’s enough to keep most extreme metal fans interested to keep them away from checking out something else in their collection. In many places, a lot of the album reminds me of recycled Vader and Behemoth riffs and their particular style of death metal assault – or it may simply be a case of listening to so much extreme metal bands over the years that at times it can sound like a mish-mash of similar sounding things, where it can sometimes be hard to distinguish one album from the next. Or, maybe at this particular moment I was having an off day? The jury would conclude an undecided verdict.

If the album was put on my mp3 player while I was blindfolded, and then I browsed through my player on random play and played this particular album, there is nothing in that would have me performing a double-check to see what this surprise album is. But, the album isn’t that bad it would have me diving to the player to check out something else – if that makes sense.

However, there are the occasional stand out tracks that springs out from the mix. ‘Allegiance of Snakes’ starts with a scratchy clean chord opening which launches into a delightful pots and pans furious drum and guitar chug fest with enough of a catchy pace to find yourself unwittingly head banging to the track. ‘In Love With Death’ has an immediately catchy riff with some nice melodic motifs and guitar solos, combined with a part menacing whisper and part growl vocal exchange through the track that for some strange reason has me thinking or Rotting Christ – which is definitely by no means a bad thing.

The basic template of the band is a use of fast and slow tempos adding a varied light and shade (or is that dark, and darker shade?) to the mix and avoiding a need to go into hyper-driven blastbeat territory, but I feel there is nothing particularly striking that makes it stand head and shoulders amongst other releases. The best way to describe the album is a somewhat AC/DC-ian approach to death metal in the manner of Six Feet Under, sticking to a competent level but not pushing the envelope too far or risk trying something different. They just plod through a very comfortable death metal groove that will not have you switching it off, but not really have you diving back to play it at another time. They are a very competent band at what they do, but they certainly don’t re-invent the extreme metal wheel so to speak. Try, before you buy.

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