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Hieroglyph – Ouroboros Award winner

by Jean-Francois Poulin at 23 April 2017, 8:28 AM

It sure wasn't easy to find information on this band. I wanted to check out the Metal Archives website but they weren't there, which it pretty odd being it's the most complete database out there, but I digress. I read a few articles here and there about the band, about the self release of their first album. There seemed to be a little buzz on some pretty big websites about this English band. I didn't know what to expect to be perfectly honest. Boy, was I there for one great big surprise!

I was listening to this album on my way back from work, usually I watch movies on my cell phone or dabble on little games on the same cell phone but this time I wanted to listen to this album to do my review. I was so glad that I did this because this might be my favourite album of 2017 (ok, I know we are still in april!).

I am always impressed by the quality of production of independent bands, the quality is so much richer and better than it was like ten years ago. The equipment is better and the technology is on the up and up. This album sounds like a ton of bricks and it sounds like the big budget releases we see and hear throughout the year. Everything sounds so crisp and it's not easy especially when you have two vocalists with two distinct styles. So, the mixing of this album was done masterfully.

First and foremost, this band has a lot going for themselves. Like I said you have two distinct singers in the band. You have the melodic and powerful voice of Valentina Reptile (gotta love the name) and you have the growls and Death Metal vocals of Mark Howes. It's a pretty big contrast but they do complete each other. Only knock on the band is sometimes the Death Metal vocals are too omnipresent on some songs and they don't give enough space to the rich and powerful female voice of the band.

It's probably one of the more Technical Progressive Metal albums I have heard in a very long time. I am pretty much used to the basics of the genre with bands like DREAM THEATER but this reminded me of bands like SPIRAL ARCHITECT, unbeknownst to many, this band was revolutionary in the genre.  Concentrating on the more abstract and the limitless ways of the genre. HIEROGLYPH are pushing the limits of the genre and I just loved the breakdowns, the sudden twists and turns of the music. I hadn't heard anything like that in a very long time.

On the other side, when it's not diving into the open waters of Progressive Metal, well this band reminded me of LACUNA COIL. I was tempted to say AMARANTHE but that band has three vocalists and the genre hasn't drifted towards a bit more commercial style but still very solid stuff nonetheless. The songs have that type of structure and the duelling voices are a dead giveaway.  Sometimes when I heard Valentina sing, I get transported in those early LACUNA COIL albums with the awesome voice of Cristina Scabbia. I gotta admit it I like the fact you have Death Metal vocals than the vocal stylings of Andrea Ferro! I love the contrast between both vocalists and each have that pure and raw energy throughout.

Oh I almost forgot, the names of the songs (what's in the parentheses) are types of hieroglyphs, so it's a nice touch! I loved the link between that and the name of the bands. In some songs, you can hear Valentina speak in arabic, especially on the choruses. I didn't notice at first but on my second listen on the album, I noticed the variants. It's an awesome mix of Progressive Metal and LACUNA COIL, it really is the first thing I said to myself when I heard the album. Powerful, catchy, awesome, the words are not enough to describe how much I loved this album!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Solar (The Fool)
2. Samsara (The Wheel of Fortune)
3. Enochian (The Hermit)
4. Rise and Fall (Strength)
5. Jopari (The Chariot)
6. Mandragora/Lunar (The Lovers)
7. Crown (The Hierophant) Ft. Meyrick De La Fuente
8. The Butterfly (The Emperor)
9. Sapphire (The Empress)
10. Starlight (The High Priestess) Ft. William Alex Young
11. Ouroboros (The Magician)
Sam Butterfield - Lead Guitars
Valentina Reptile - Vocals
Mark Howes - Vocals
Helen ''Tyrone'' Tytherleigh - Bass
Bradie Nixon - Drums
Richard Barnes - Guitars
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 29 November 2022

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