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Them – Return to Hemmersmoor Award winner

Them
Return to Hemmersmoor
by Jean-François Poulin at 23 October 2020, 12:27 PM

THEM are a Heavy Metal with band members from Germany and U.S.A. They were originally formed as a KING DIAMOND tribute band but became a full-fledged band in 2014. Troy Norr is the mastermind behind this project, he has crafted the backstory of their universe and has created its own world. The band has had a number of lineup changes since the last album back in 2018 and have carefully changed their dynamic at the same time. For people out of the loop, Hemmersmoor is a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition. It’s the village on the Devil’s Moor in Stefan Kiesbye’s book called ‘’Your House is on Fire, Your Children are Gone’’. The supernatural horror novel has a cult following and the guys from THEM have developed an album that revolves around this universe and the doom and gloom suspense driven novel.

I was disappointed with the fact that Mike LePond left the band, when I saw them back in 2016, opening for HELLOWEEN, he was rocking and rolling and was a master at his craft. He is one of the very best bassist in all of Metal and his band SYMPHONY X is one of the greatest Neo-Classical bands out there and never had the love and respect they rightfully deserved. They are so good but never were able to break through unfortunately. An album based on a book or inspired by a book is something of a lost art. MANTICORA did it twice these last few years with their last two albums but the album was written by the vocalist of the band. It was out of the ordinary and totally original.

The narration and storytelling at the beginning of the album was pretty awesome. It sounded like an audio representation of an album and it’s a sign of things to come. The production is top notch and you can feel yourself immersed in the story itself. I could have listened to something like the first instances of the album for another hour. Quality voice actors and such emotion and character. It was such a nice change of pace from anything else I have heard this very year.

‘’Age of Ascension’’ has the high pitched shrieks we are used to from this band. They are heavily influenced (musically and theatrically) by KING DIAMOND and this song was such a throwback and reminded me of the greatness of ‘’Sweet Hollow’’ back in 2016. I felt they lost a bit of that momentum on the last album but this song is a great start and step in the right direction. He doesn’t use his high-pitched vocals too much compared to the past and the dosage seems to be more mature in a sense. It’s not always a constant barrage of higher vocals and I think they were a bit tired of being typecast as clones of those legends.

‘’Free’’ and ‘’The Tumultous Voyage to Hemmersmoor’’ shows another side of the band, it reminded me of some of the better Matt Barlow era ICED EARTH songs. Not too fast but with some really nice hooks, an emphasis on a very capable vocalist surrounded by great musicians. A lot of skill applied to songs that are epic, dark, cohesive and downright razor sharp in order to form a whole that’s every bit as its parts and then some. It’s the darker side of Power Metal, not the happy go lucky European stylings obviously.

‘’Battle Blood’’ was a bit of a departure for the band. They sounded like old school ANNIHILATOR, the Dave Padden years. For me those were the best albums from the Canadian Thrash Metal albums. These songs shifted the sound of the band and you do have some Traditional Heavy Metal elements thrown in for good measures but they are all in with the Thrash Metal. Well they showed that they can do something else and can adapt their sound throughout.

‘’Field of Immortality’’ has a very impressive bassline and flute playing at the beginning. It’s kinda ominous to say the least! The rest of the song really reminded me of the older NEVERMORE albums, very guitar heavy and very loud. (’’The Thin Veil’’) is also a prime example of the influence of NEVEMORE on their music. The vocals are powerful and keep your attention fixed. It’s mixed with old school Heavy Metal, think very anthemic HAMMERFALL or GRAND MAGUS. This is my favorite song of the album by far.

What stands out obviously is the apparent way they were able to distance themselves from the previous comparisons they have had since the beginning of their career. Each song on this album is different, I did highlight some of the songs on this review but every song has it’s own time and place. They all have this different vibe about each other and they complete each other. I think they wanted to show the world that they weren’t only KING DIAMOND clones but they could pull off some other musical styles. I think they achieved their goal and this album has lots to offer to the listener out there. They still have their influences but have broadened their musical horizon to incorporate so many other dimensions that they are ready to make their mark on the world of Heavy Metal.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Diluvium
2. Age of Ascension
3. The Tumultous Voyage to Hemmersmoor
4. Free
5. Field of Immortality
6. The Thin Veil
7. Waken
8. Memento Mori
9. Hellhounds: The Harbingers of Death
10. Battle Blood
11. Maestro’s Last Stand
12. Finis
Lineup:
Troy Norr – Vocals
Markus Ullrich – Guitars
Angel Cotte – Drums
Markus Johansson – Guitars
Alexander Palma – Bass
Richie Seibel – Keyboards
Record Label: SPV/Steamhammer
     


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