AlbumsFebruary 25, 20231,168 views


1. Sheol - Part I - Nowhere 2. Sheol - Part II - Lands of Haze 3. Bone Dust 4. Tauca - Part I - Another 5. Lava from the Sky 6. The Dreamer and his Dream 7. Slow Steams of Darkness - Part I - Milluni 8. Slow Steams of Darkness - Part II - Solar Mist
2023 Pelagic Records
Our score 8


It’s always a massive undertaking getting into a band like Hypno5e (pronounced “hypnose”). Progressive and post-metal music trends on the longer, denser side so it’s important for every minute to count. Many struggle to make hour-long albums worthwhile regardless of genre. Hypno5e though? They are quite adept at it, regularly surpassing the 60-minute mark with their work while diving into deep themes, dispersing dots all around to be connected in various ways, and generally making a mess of the place with wickedly heavy music that’s catchy, fun, and vibrant.

Sheol is the first half of a story, the second of which you can find in their 2018 album, A Distant (Dark) Source, which was phenomenally competent in what it set out to achieve. This also explains why that album had a track called “Tauca, Pt. II” with no part one in sight - it’s here on Sheol. Really, the two albums sound quite similar, with some elements placed more dominantly here than they were on A Distant (Dark) Source.

“Bone Dust” for instance has a forlorn strings trio nail the song’s introductory atmosphere, setting the table for a varied track that’s all over the spectrum of tone and mood. Emmanuel Jessua’s vocals croon cleanly with pristine guitars while pressure is built to release with devastating weight and angular melodies that claw at your consciousness. It’s one of the most passionately developed songs on the album. The back half of “Lava from the Sky” deserves a special mention for this as well, especially for its use of rim clicks that fill the space in a thoughtful way.


A more straightforward desire could lead you one of two ways. The first post-intro track “Sheol - Part II - Lands of Haze” starts rugged and rough. Buzzing guitars, even some blast beats, accent the hell out of this song. It’s easily one of the most locomotive tracks on Sheol, driving forward and collapsing all in its path. In the other direction, you got “Tauca - Part I - Another” which is a full-on acoustic track, bridging cleanly over to A Distant (Dark) Source as detailed before. It’s radiant, ready for digestion from any lighter contemporary prog fans out there that value emotive measures more than violent, caustic ones.

Sheol overall feels a bit less concise than previous works, especially the legendarily good Acid Mist Tomorrow. To get nitpicky, I question why two song suites - the title track and “Slow Steams of Darkness” - even need a couple-minute intro track each when they could be sewn into the matinee track proper and take in the tracklist a bit. Then again, Hypno5e’s previous albums have done this, including the ones I’ve named elsewhere, making it something of a mainstay identifier for the band not to mention a neat throwback to the conventions of golden age prog rock which was rife with this sort of structure. Go off, I guess.


The ebb and flow between all the tempos and approaches is nice, but sometimes gets a bit too predictable, such is the nature of the beast. It’s why, at your most cynical, you could say a lot of tracks run together, but you’re telling on yourself if you earnestly take that stance. Locking in with softer soundscapes or heavy deluges only would not make for a dynamic or cinematic album though, so it’s a lesser evil of sorts if you value exploratory and experimental music. 

What makes it worth the listen is the variance of elements that are employed to service each side of Sheol’s music and keep it from getting stale. You get the harsh guitars, acoustics, string arrangements, synths, chittering percussion, booming drums, sung and screamed vocals, open air, claustrophobic tightness - Hypno5e offer a veritable cornucopia of progressive music. There’s specifics in “Lava from the Sky” that you won’t hear in “Sheol - Part II - Lands of Haze”. Moments of “Bone Dust” astonish in ways “The Dreamer and his Dream” can’t touch. To quote Justin Hunte, “it’s all happening” and it’s all for different, good reasons.


Bottom line: Sheol is a lot to love, but the operative word is “love”. More than ever, Hypno5e have honed their cinematic craft, imbued it with immense power, cradled by looming atmosphere and warmth that a lot of music of this kind abandons in pursuit of cruelty and coarseness. If you prefer that, I feel you - you will still find moments on here that will captivate and punish. But I think what the band do exceedingly well is balance all that out to make the heavy hit harder and feel earned. Bravo to them for continuing to push that mentality on their sixth album to great success.


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anonymous 22 days ago

This review really lambs my goat. Goated with the lamb sauce, one might say.

anonymous 21 days ago

I love this band but I wish their label would get their shit together and make the CD available on Amazon!