Review: Hyperion — Seraphical Euphony
Behold the Father of the Sun, who embraced death and life in equal parts. Behold the icy landscapes in which his breath stopped and travelled to other planes.
With a pinch of classic melodic black metal and a dash of melodic death metal, Hyperion is a relatively young band that is fighting to find their own voice while balancing the different tensions of these two genres. With their first full-length released this year, this new Swedish sprout is both seeking to forge a new path and carrying some ancestral banners, so we will have to enter through the threshold they present.
The primary references to understand Hyperion’s work can be traced in the traditional Swedish sound of the nineties. The melodic phrases of the strings and the soothing experience of autumnal melancholy are both present there, but you can also find hurtful winter winds of the more extreme acts within this genre. It is clear, then, that Seraphical Euphony is a work composed under the paradigms of Emperor and Dissection with a mix of the aesthetic approach of older In Flames and At the Gates. Interestingly, the overall experience seems to be split into these two halves; the first half meditates on the melodic black metal approach, and the second segment obsesses over the first wave of melodic death metal. With a little effort and focus, the listener can trace these roots during a conscientious spin of this record.
But a simple throwback to older styles may not merit your attention, so what do Hyperion actually achieve with this release? Seraphical Euphony is far more than tight musicianship or a careful selection of influences; this band is actively showing us a new way to reinterpret and appropriate older musical language.
Following the candlelit introduction, “Remnants of the Fallen”, Hyperion kick out 52 minutes of a tangible, imaginative godly war. The rich textures of the acoustic guitars set up the mood, helping and carrying the listener through a staging inspired by the multiple Greco-Roman Gods and historical legends. The lyrical contents are recollections of this period, and each song deals with its own anthemic battle or tale. “Flagellum Dei” (translated as Scourge of God), for example, tells a tale of the barbaric invasions of Rome and the defense of the people under the command of general Flavius Aetius. Other songs, mostly “Seraphical Euphony” or the fearless closer “Blood of the Ancients”, tals with a more mythological speech and gothic chants, describing the underworld and the fall of the first age of the Titans.
All these topics are interconnected into the major theme of a more nuanced perspective of the decadence of society, one where chaos and imagination create order. The attempt of destruction of modern values and the uncertainty of the present are smartly engaged through the historical and mythological analogies. Hyperion is not rehashing speeches from generic dark myths, but rather weaving an intriguing arc of expression made all the stronger by its link between past and future.
From the musical aspect, the comparisons with the aforementioned bands can alienate people that only want an innovation or those who cannot enjoy hugely melodic records. Moreover, the bi-directional genre approach could also be a hindrance. The saccharine hopeful sounds inspired by In Flames, on the second half of the record, from the Gothenburg old-school experience of “Moral Evasion” onwards, are more present than the sorrowful pastoral riffing of the melodic black metal tremolos, and this may be seen by some as a lack of cohesion. I disagree, though; the melodies are adjusted to each song and lyrical topic without any kind of issue.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t highlight one of the major strengths that melodic approach lends the album. The keyboard layers throughout are a major positive characteristic. They suit the atmosphere with chorus-like effects that contrast with the menacing segments or the sad moments. Drums and guitars engage in teams to provide a solid base for the playful melodies, working with fate through the light, fast moments and the unexpected transitions to the slower segments. Some sparkling solos decorate landscapes and emotions, constructed under the folkloric counterpoint and harmonized nature of the Swedish tradition. In the vocal department, the frozen rasps fly over the mix accompanied by narrations akin to Carach Angren or Dimmu Borgir, the gesticulations of the lyrics wholly worthwhile and provide a story-telling effect to all the narrative structures of the songs that suits the melodic atmosphere. All of this music is wrapped with a pristine clean production that does not distract and leaves spaces for the bass and the keyboard twists to provide the songs a much more cinematic approach.
Seraphical Euphony is indeed a magnificent record that does not shy away from the grandeur of what the band is trying to communicate with the music and the lyrics, but it is also important to remember that the collage of both melodic black and melodic death metal will require patience and an open mind.
Overall, this record has become one of my favorites this year due to its precise execution of beautiful melodies and multi-colored feelings. It is a powerful album that deserves
4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Seraphical Euphony is out now. Check out Hyperion’s Bandcamp and browse through Black Lion Productions to buy a physical copy as well. Follow the band on Facebook and tell them that a Half-Elf-Half-Venezuelan fan from a funny-named blog recommended their music.
What do you think of Hyperion’s Seraphical Euphony? Share your thoughts in the comment section and share if you think the band is worthy of your attention!
Photo: VIA. Cover by Alex Tartsus.