Finland’s Woland describe themselves as a “Modern Post-Black Metal band”. They definitely sound modern, but where the “post” prefix fits their sound I don’t really know. They neither do anything drastically different to anyone else, nor do they fit into the scene of other Post-Black Metal bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room for example.
They certainly play Black Metal with a modern production, but it’s too much. Every aspect of the album is far too polished and clean, and any atmosphere, or any edge the album may have, has all the life completely squashed out of it. While there are raspy black metal vocals, and distorted riffs, and all the features you would associate with Black Metal, there’s absolutely nothing extreme about this album, solely down to said lifeless production. Heavy ugly riffing mixed with a pristine production just sounds wrong. The drumming especially is uninteresting, it just rattles along at mid-pace with no energy or interesting fills. It’s far too polished, and as such it’s bland.
Another problem is the kitchen sink approach. In an attempt to try and be different, and maybe justify their claims of being a post-black metal band they try to incorporate lots of different elements, but the fact is, it’s been done before. There is a lot of synth, and it’s overbearing at times, they have slower sections, but they don’t add atmosphere. There are industrial sounding sections on “Art of Ascension”, and there are saccharine melodic solos throughout, which sound too sweet even for melodic black metal. There are sections with piano, but they don’t utilise it to build up an atmosphere, and they don’t fit in with the songs, it just seems to be there to add variety. It’s there so briefly its almost not worth it being there at all. Perhaps the only experiment which does work is the flamenco guitar on “Living Water”, which is the best track, but this still doesn’t say a whole lot. Again though, it’s not used for long enough to really add much, and just feels like another cheap attempt to add variety to their sound. Add some much too clean clean vocals at points, and it just adds to the hollowness of the sound, throughout it is artificially heavy. Distorted and bearing black metal hallmarks, but with no grit, no passion, no atmosphere, which is everything the classic albums in the style have.
There are certainly some very interesting riffs throughout the album, but they’re too sporadic, and buried in a sea of other mediocre ones. It’s about the only highlight to be found here. and this doesn’t save Hyperion from being mostly boring and sterile. It’s never nice to say an album is bad, but this one certainly is. It’s very frustrating, because the guitarist is obviously very competent, and the vocalist is decent enough. It’s only their debut, and if they could add some life to their production in the future, and make their experimental side actually add something to the music, then they might get better.
Hyperion is out on Indie Recordings on February 17th.
Have a listen to the album preview: