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Draco Hypnalis - Balance of Moments
Reviewed by Lane, Rating: 7½ (out of 10)
I've listened to various styles of metal music for so long time, that I don't mind if I get to hear to some more peculiar band every now and then. However, I'm not liking every anomaly I stumble into, but Czech progressive symphonic/gothic/death metal band Draco Hypnalis is a fine example of an interesting, working oddity.
The band's third full-length album 'Balance of Moments' is my first contact with them. Listening to it is like a journey through the fabric of time. Here, one can hear a lot of old, even ancient elements, but it all has been wrapped in a quite unique outfit.
The band starts with dreamy yet powerful avantgarde metal, mixing gothic Therion style featuring a violin with 1990s Septic Flesh style highly melodic and neoclassically inspired stuff, which can turn harsh, even savage at times. Add to that some progressive music style electronics, which sound outdated yet perfect.
Metal music elements are made of varying riffing and drumming, plus growled vocals. Pace of the music frequently fluctuates from slow to blasting. Surely, some tasty lead guitar melodies are heard, too. Progressive element is pretty strong at some points. A few metal more metal bands come to my mind while listening to this album: Late Russia avantgardists Hieronymus Bosch, Tenebris and Sirrah from Poland, Norway's Arcturus ('Perceive the Shadow Spears'), and perhaps Austrian bands Hollenthon and Golden Dawn, even Dutch ones After Forever and Epica on the title track. The vocals are mainly brutal growling. They are mostly in Septic Flesh vein: demonic and truly inhuman. They vary from almost guttural low to more like shrieked ones. There's also Misanthropy style sobbing heard... The lyrics might take much longer time to understand, than the music: "Shadow horses, carnivorous beasts, devour lava of suns." They are otherworldly, to say the least.
So, classical music plays a big part in Draco Hypnalis' music. Both, guitars (including bass guitar) and keyboards, are utilized to play this. The keyboards emulating classical instruments sound very MIDI, though. At least violin is a real one. However, when I'm listening to huge orchestrated works of Blind Guardian (2 latest ones) or Cradle Of Filth (2003's 'Damnation and a Day'), for example, I think DH wins those kind of pompous efforts hands down. Anyway, when thinking about classical music, the compositions here are hardly simplistic and straight. They can get very knotty indeed. This proved to be a true sword of Damocles. 'Shostakovich' is, as you might have guessed, classical music turned into metal music, but I'm generally not so familiar with classical music that I could tell if DH have borrowed more to this work.
The production is airy, so the musical elements can be separated rather easily, is quite hard-hitting. The kick drums sound triggered (but, this the first DH album with real drums, so points for using them), and together with MIDI/basic keyboards sounds can make it a bit awkward and artificial sounding experience at times. But as I explained earlier, I don't really like overblown orchestral efforts either. However, there are some great bits in keyboard/electronic work, too, like spacey Jean-Michel Jarre type stuff on 'Star Chasing Coyote'!
'Balance of Moments' is so peculiar a release, that it tickled me from start. With more listens, I found the albums beauty, but also it's beast; there's more to it than it at first shows, and it definitely is filled with many different emotions. It
really needs more than a couple of spins to open up. It requires adventurous spirit, and if you think you have a brave one, check Draco Hypnalis out! They're worth it.