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From the rather vague information I'd previously received about Hiems, I was expecting a more atmospheric, depressing style of black metal, but no matter it still has its upside....just.
I was rather disappointed to find that originality is in rather short supply here, you're subjected to a maelstrom of speed and screams (at times reminiscent of Hate Forest) yet without that extra something that would set it apart and make it great.
The vocals firstly are average, to put it bluntly. They've a way of blending in with the music and barely altering the tone, instead just tending to drone and sound monotonous. At times they even sound whispered, with no power behind them at all – just rasping on and on in the background. They've nothing to set them apart from a lot of other modern black metal bands, there's no strength to them and that's a shame because I feel the music has potential.
On to the drums now, and I'm glad to say there's a good bit of variety here. Most of the time we've got a double bass peddle blasting out thunderous beats that could rival Pure Holocaust-era Immoral in terms of speed, and surprisingly enough, altering the style suitably to keep the interest up in this particular regard. There's no doubt that Gionata Potenti has skill on the drums, as well he should – having played in Frostmoon Eclipse, Macabre Omen and Nocternity, to name but a few.
The guitars are, for the most part, highly distorted. But this doesn't necessarily count against them. There are a few interesting riffs slotted into this album, and a few which even sound as if they've got death metal influence – and which you're more likely to hear on a Cannibal Corpse album. Additionally, there's a good deal of high, abrasive sounding tremolo picking going on which manages to peak interest. Bass is sufficient, but unsurprisingly isn't too prominent. If you listen carefully, you can hear it, but the playing style doesn't tend to raise it above average. It suffices though, and gives an acceptable undertone to the songs.
Although 90% of this album is blindingly fast, “I chose the path of inhumanity” is the exception, being the only slow/mid-paced song. Funnily enough, it works quite well and with a good amount of melody which is a welcome change. I'm not saying the more raw sound doesn't work for Hiems, it just isn't done well enough that it merits a lot of praise. This song also opens with some clean, talking vocals, though slightly muffled so you can't really tell what they're saying. A select other couple of songs have short, acoustic style parts with clean guitars. “Painted Black” is an example, and manages to strike up a nice sounding melody, before plunging back in with the speed and fury.
I made a brief comparison to Hate Forest earlier, and if you want to get an idea as to the guitar and drum style, I suggest you listen to them. Hiems though, does have more variety than Hate Forest – thats one thing to their favour. Vocals are significantly different, but not necessarily better.
I think Hiems have potential, but they need to define their playing style a bit more, and perhaps try and vary the songs, as they've started to do with the brief melodious and acoustic parts.
Stand out tracks - “I chose the path of humanity”, “Painted Black” and “For truth is deaths blossom”.