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Released: 2016, Independent
Hemina are a four-member Australian band that plays a potent brand of progressive metal. They have been toiling away for some time now in relative obscurity, consistently releasing strong albums. I reviewed 2012’s SYNTHETIC, missed 2014’s NEBULAE, but have managed to grab VENUS, the band’s third LP here in 2016. The band lineup has changed since I last checked in, with a new drummer in Nathan McMahon and vocalist Douglas Skene handling the keyboard duties now.
“Fantasy” kicks things off with a fairly heavy staccato down-tuned riff before the keyboards some splashing in. Skene is a versatile singer who channels Ray Alder during the verses of the song. One immediately noticeable change is that the band has expanded their sound while toning down the overt progressive tendencies of the debut. One need look no farther than the appropriately titled second track, “Expect The Unexpected” to hear the band’s versatility and bravery. It is a slow and unusual track with elements of Goth, horns and piano tinkles all while courting an almost lazy Floydian atmosphere. It’s an interesting tune that is certainly a departure from much of the rest of the album.
While it is true that the first two songs are fairly compact for progressive metal, the epics start to come fast and furious, with four songs eclipsing the 9-minute mark before all is complete. All told, VENUS contains 12 tracks and nearly 80 minutes of music, sure to please the most devoted of prog metal fans as VENUS will require quite an investment of time to assimilate. Hemina has managed to incorporate elements of many bands from Porcupine Tree to Labyrinth and even traces of Enchant and Devin Townsend. The title track is definitely a high point, bringing the many elements of the band under one representative tune. “I” is also another fantastic song, maybe my favorite on this sprawling album featuring appropriate female vocals about half way through. “Dream State Of Mind” is also another highlight.
Despite being an independent release, the production is quite solid and clear though not as sharp or bright in some areas. Ultimately, Hemina is not doing anything groundbreaking, but they certainly execute with confidence and precision. Their willingness to sometimes throw out the accepted prog metal playbook is refreshing, even if they eventually go and pick it back up. Kinda hard to believe these guys do not have a major label yet, but it is not through lack of good material, and VENUS certainly offers more of that for folks to appreciate.
2. Expect the Unexpected
3. High Kite Ride
4. Moonlight Bride
6. The Collective Unconscious
7. Secret's Safe
10. Dream State of Mind
11. Down Will Come Baby
Douglas Skene - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Mitch Coull - Guitars, Vocals
Jessica Martin - Bass, Vocals
Nathan McMahon - Drums, Vocals
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