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Album Review: HIRAES ‘Solitary’

 

Words by Jimmy Glinster

 

After copping some online flack about reviewing a Black Metal album with my admitted lack of knowledge or respect for the genre, what better way to progress than by throwing me straight into a European Death Metal review. So, let’s give this a spin and see how it pans out!

 

The album opens with some atmospheric suspense building background noise and a quite simplistic three note guitar melody before dropping into some intense chords of doom. Enter guttural growls of despair following a short spooky whisper. For a death metal piece, the opening track Shadows Break is quite melodic. Is this that oxymoron of a genre “Melodic Death Metal” that I keep hearing about?

 

Under Fire opens with a machine gun style classic Death metal riff before breaking into some kind of hardcore-esque chug riff. I’m so confused right now, I thought this was Death Metal?

 

As the vocals begin, I realise I’ve missed something probably worth mentioning, but not fussing over. Hiraes are fronted by a female vocalist, not that you would tell at first listen, but merely noticeable due to the melodic intricacies and expanded range not usually displayed by male death metal vocalists. This track again takes on a melodic feel and even blesses us with a guitar solo mid-song. Death Metal, still not sure about that?

 

And on that note, Grain of Sand launches into a classic thrash riff complete with opening guitar solo and matching verse. The song then pulls back a little into that Melodic Death Metal feel again before bouncing back into a groove metal style second verse and then back into some death grind and some weird little bridge section. These guys/gals are all over the place, which isn’t a bad thing because this track rocks pretty fucking hard!

 

We are almost halfway through this album now and the next track 1000 Lights brings in yet another genre twist with a synth intro that screams Symphonic Metal. Bit of a slow burner this one, with its drawn-out vocals, slow progressive guitars and simple but effective heavy rhythm section.

 

Eyes Over Black, the bands third single, wait … what? I didn’t even realise Death Metal bands had singles, let alone three of them. Anyway, this track throws us straight back into my favourite little oxymoron, “Melodic Death Metal”. I must admit, they do it quite well, even though I still don’t completely understand it. Not a bad track, nor is the following track Outshine, but not a single I think you’ll hear on Spotify’s Top Hits playlist anytime soon.

 

At this point, I’m discovering that I may in fact have some love for this whole Melodic Death Metal thing, but maybe it’s just because this band seems to do it quite well by adding in touches of other sub-genres here and there to prick your ears up. Speaking of, the next track, and second single Solitary opens with another classic thrash metal style riff before being torn apart by brutally dark guttural death metal growls. Did I mention that this is a female vocalist? Yeah, I did, so let’s not dwell on that and take away from the fact that this is a good band, just because they are good fucking band!

 

For a very brief moment at the start of Strangers we hear some clean melodic vocals, and I’m thinking I’m about to get myself some Evanescence action. Hang on, put it back in ya swag big fella … or something like that gets brutally screamed at me, well probably not those exact words, but you get where I’m going here. This one is another slow burner and I guess as close to what you would call a “ballad” in the Death Metal realm with its melodic guitar sections and backed off pace.

 

Running Out Of Time, yes we are, and so the title of the final track reminds us. Insert classic Death Metal intro, add synth, and growl like a full-grown man seems to work for this one as an album closer. Not sure what it is but the overall sound of this song sounds like the album closer it is. Nothing special about it, just classic death metal vibes … with a touch of melody, and Amy Lee on a piano outro … but probably not actually Amy Lee.

 

Not sure if it’s the improved production these days, or a greater emphasis on signwriting, but this album actually makes me want to check out some more “Melodic Death Metal”, whatever that is.

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