Norwegian’s doom/death metallers Hymn begins their debut full-length album with Ritual. Warbling low tones of a synthesiser, layered in time with oscillating and distorted harmonies, Ritual invites you into the church of an underground venue. There are glitching sounds followed by cymbal crashes counting off the coming sermon, Rise, which encapsulates the pair’s songwriting strength in 12 minutes flat. Raw and visceral, yet by no means blind to truths, Ole Rokseth howls and shreds threats to the Gods at each peak, at times leaning towards death metal or towards doom. In the valley of this epic, a reflection of what’s passed and what’s to come enters thoughts, and as Ritual enters its final riff, Ole’s tormented howls are unable to be ignored, like an epiphany shattering your world while he bleeds before you.
Ritual gives way to the Serpent, a crushing blend of Gojira/Hellish Outcast riffs storms along between verses that explode with vocals. Markus Støle begins to showcase his talents as a drummer prior to the interlude, rolling through his kit while Rokseth opens the song with a haunting 3/4 swing riff over a synth organ. Hollow begins with a towering tri-tone riff that takes form alike 90s stoner doom contemporaries (but never strays from the tonality initially established) before taking an unexpectedly fitting change of vocals alike Layne Staley of Alice in Chains for the interlude.
Spectre persists the doom approach, even dipping into a sludge atmosphere, that transcends into a single-note shred fest with almost Mastodon harmonies. Afterwards, the riff enters a fantastic mix of Gojira/Mastodon for the interlude (think Magma/L’enfant Sauvage breaks) Spectre closes with a propelling death metal triplet gallop march. Title track Perish shows the duo saving the best for last, building into their most powerful riff a piece at a time. The result is a monolithic sludge with hammer-ons. Just when you’ve had a good taste, the music is stripped to bass and drums for a few minutes before it explodes once again for a short time. The send off is a gloomful return to the tolling tri-tone, feedbacking in and out until it fades away.
The most shocking revelation to be had in the experience that is Hymn’s debut album is that Hymn is a two-piece. Ole Rokseth embodies so many influences from some of the greatest metal acts out today (and of the 90’s) and is able to weave between doom and death metal with such incredible ease, while Markus Støle matches the skill and adds an essential depth to this pair’s unbelievable heaviness. It’s no wonder they’ve played alongside the likes of Enslaved, and have played at Øyafestivalen (a 60k capacity four-day festival in hometown Oslo, Norway.) Expect Hymn on the big league’s circuit soon.