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Hydra shows a different face - 85%

Mors_Gloria, December 17th, 2007

Hydra has always been a band that despite being Swedish and deeply rooted in melodic death metal never jumped into the bandwagon of the Gothenburg scene. Which is something I respect immensely as they always kept their music the way they like them.

From the songs in this album only Phaedra was familiar to Hydra's fans back then as it was re-recorded in 2002 in order to be released in a split with Unholy Archangel (a split that never saw the light of day).

Hydra had made a small group of fans with their demos and their allegiance with Unholy Archangel (a famous band in the Greek underground) so their debut album was expected from both the Greek and Swedish underground. One would expect that Hydra would write an album in the vein of their demos in order to retain their fanbase. Guess again. Hydra in this release shows an entirely different face.

The music to be found here has nothing to do with the hellenic pagan metal (as the band describes their music) that they played in the first 3 demos or with melodic death / black metal hybrid of Head Of Medusa. The thing that differs in this album is the lack of black metal elements

Now that's something that could get me to dislike this album as I am a big fan of black metal myself and I loved the sweet tremolo picked riffs of Head Of Medusa. However, this is for the good of Hydra cause the result in this one is better than anything Hydra has released as of yet.

The guitars here are more technical and you are treated with some solos in Baptism Of Royal Blood, Phaedra and Portents Of Achilles. You do not get here the same amount of tremolo picked riffs that was found in Head Of Medua. These riffs are substituted by doomy passages that haunt the release. The bass is once again prominent. It can be heard throughout the whole album and in Sanctuary of Tantalus it's the driving forve behind the music. The vocals are the standard vocals of Hydra though in Altar Fires they head towards the black metal realm. The drumming is the highlight of the album. It is spot on. Karl Thunder is a really tight drummer. Bravo for his efforts.

This album is not as catchy as Head Of Medusa. However, it is clearly more upbeat. I know that this sounds weird (and believe me it is weird) but there are some humppa-influenced breakdowns in Baptism Of Royal Blood and Sacrifice Of Nobler Blood.

The best song of this album is the opener. Baptism Of Royal Blood is probably Hydra's best song. It starts off slow with a strong black metal vibe that does not hold much before going into total annihilation when drums and vocals kick in. After the verse and the chorus a breakdown comes in that slowly fades away and gives its place to a beautiful solo. The solo is slow and melodic. Flame did a good work on it. Phaedra is a good song, too. It is a song that is reminiscent of the older days of Hydra. No wonder that's the song that was recorded earlier from the album and had some obvious black metal references (however it's one of the three songs that contain a solo).

I'd reccomend this album to anyone that likes extreme metal. No matter if you like death or black, you'll have to have this one. It is surely worth your attention and your money.

Standout tracks: Baptism Of Royal Blood, Phaedra.