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Hemina: Synthetic

From Australia comes the progressive metal act Hemina and their debut full-length CD Synthetic. It's a near 80-minute concept album about a disembodied angel who is forced to live in our world today and possibly even further than that. Musically speaking, this is dynamic stuff that mixes both the prog and the metal very well, and should instantly appeal to fans of Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Ayreon, early Pain of Salvation, and Redemption.

Epic is the best way to describe Synthetic. Not only do three songs pass the 11-minute range, but there's a majestic & powerful scope to the musical arrangements and vocals that just 'wows' from the very first spin of the CD. "To Conceive a Plan" features some fantastic vocals from Douglas Skene, and he and Mitch Coull lay down some impressive riffage & solos with Phill Eltakchi also joining the fray with plenty of keyboard tapestries. This one segues right into the symphonic "The Boy Is Dead", as orchestral keys and heavy riffs support Skene's emotional vocals, both soaring clean and harsh screams. "For All the Wrong Reasons" is a shorter, more acoustic guitar & keyboard based track, which then morphs into the melodic prog rocker "And Now to Find a Friend". This one sees Eltakchi once again mesmerizing with loads of sumptuous keys while Skene and Coull lay down some complex riffery amidst the intricate rhythms from drummer Mathew Irsak and bassist Jessica Martin. I don't want to fail to mention the impressive vocal layers from the entire band, as they all take part in the backing vocals on the album which gives everything a very rich sound.

Tasty harmony guitars permeate the crunchy yet melodic "With What I See", and the dreamy & atmospheric "Hunting is for Women" at times reminds me of Pink Floyd and The Alan Parsons Project. If you love the Images and Words album from Dream Theater, or Remedy Lane from Pain of Salvation, you'll go apeshit for the sumptuous melodic progressive metal that is "Even in Heaven", and the epic "Divine" is simply that, divine.

Quite frankly, Synthetic kind of came out of nowhere for me and has really knocked me on my ass. Hermina have put together a wildly successful progressive metal opus here, and based on this they have easily become one of THE bands to watch in the genre from this moment on.

Track Listing
1. This Hour of Ours 2:12
2. To Conceive a Plan 11:27
3. The Boy is Dead 9:07
4. For All Wrong Reasons 4:55
5. And Now to Find a Friend 11:20
6. With What I See 6:38
7. Hunting is for Women 6:44
8. Even in Heaven 7:05
9. Conduit to the Sky 2:50
10. Haunting Me! 3:58
11. Divine 13:28

Added: June 19th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 3863
Language: english

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Hemina: Synthetic
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-06-19 21:13:53
My Score:

Hailing from Australia is Hemina, a five-piece progressive metal act that strikes an impressive balance between classic prog metal, heavy modern influences, and dynamic touches reminiscent of the best progressive music from the seventies'. The band gained some attention for their 2010 EP, As We Know It, but their 2012 full-length, Synthetic, has actually received quite a bit of hype and recognition from the progressive rock and metal communities. And with good reason, I might add. Clocking in at roughly 80 minutes, this ambitious concept album is jam-packed with absolutely killer and surprisingly unique prog metal; Synthetic is the sort of album that fans of the genre will not want to pass up on. This is just a damn good album across the board, and I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more from Hemina in the future.

The majority of the music that's played on Synthetic is what I tend to look for in modern progressive metal - dynamic songwriting, stunning instrumentals, memorable choruses, and killer riffs. Hemina provides the listener with all of these things, but they do so in a way that is entirely their own. Rather than borrowing all of these tricks from established veterans like Dream Theater, Fates Warning, and Ayreon, Hemina puts these key traits in a more unique setting that sets them apart from other progressive metal acts. The end result is an album that sounds familiar and accessible to any prog metal veteran, but still contains enough original twists to keep it from feeling like a re-hash of something already done twenty years ago. Hemina leans towards the more theatrical and dynamic style of progressive metal played by acts like Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, Vanden Plas, and Evergrey, but you should also expect plenty of Dream Theater-influenced virtuosity, spacey sections reminiscent of Pink Floyd, melodic prog metal in the vein of Anubis Gate, and even some influences from modern thrash and power metal. Synthetic is not the kind of album that will sound polarizing to any progressive metal listener, but it packs enough variety to feel fresh and unique.

Of course, none of this would mean anything if Hemina didn't also impress from a compositional standpoint, but the band also excels on this front. For an album that's nearly eighty minutes long, it's a bit surprising that Synthetic is entirely void of any filler tracks. The ten-plus minute epic tracks like "To Conceive A Plan", "And Now To Find a Friend", and "Divine" may steal the show for some listeners, but many of the shorter songs are also masterpieces in their own right. Songs like "With What I See" or "Hunting Is For Women" especially strike me as an exceptional prog metal pieces that veer on the shorter side. In terms of musicianship, Hemina also delivers much more than expected; the band is exceptionally talented across the board, and some of the guitar solos (especially the one in "Divine") are just jaw-dropping. I could see Douglas Skene's vocals being an acquired taste for some, but I personally love his singing style. He sounds a bit like Ray Alder (of Fates Warning and Redemption fame) to these ears, which is definitely not a bad thing in my opinion.

The only minor complaint I have with the album is that the production is less than ideal - the mix feels a bit compressed, and (pardon the pun) the drums also have a 'synthetic' sound to them. A slightly less overdone production style would have impressed me, but this is the sort of flaw that's really easy to overlook in favor of excellent music. Synthetic is a virtually faultless debut album from Hemina; certainly not the kind of album that's easy to follow up. I'll be eagerly awaiting the band's next move, and in the meantime, I'll recommend this stunning debut to anybody who enjoy bands like Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, Redemption, Anubis Gate, Evergrey, Vanden Plas, and Dream Theater. Synthetic is undoubtedly one of the best debut efforts to come out within the last few years.

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