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Sometimes, an album comes out from seemingly nowhere and knocks you senseless, leaving you dazed and in awe of its power. Mythos Of The Great Pestilence, the second full-length by Swedish band Hyperborean, had just that effect on me. I’m not normally one for melodic black metal, or for overtly technical and progressive metal, but this album does almost everything right, and is played with such conviction and power that even someone like me, who is not a big fan of this style, has been left very impressed.
Coming across as the meeting point between Melechesh and mid-era Marduk (no big surprise, given that drums on the album were performed by Fredrik Widigs and the album was mixed by Magnus Devo Andersson, both of whom play in Marduk) with an extra dash of progressive song-writing and technical ability, Hyperborean could so easily have ended up falling in to the trap of many bands of this style and produce something technically impressive but lacking in soul. Thankfully, that is not the case. Right from the opening moments of first track “Hail Dystopia”, it is clear that the band are giving it their all, and this sense of passion comes across. There is a great mix of guitar styles on show, not just in the rhythm guitars, but also the solos and leads that sometimes display an eastern influence, and the drumming is never less than stellar. Meanwhile, Magnus Persson’s vocals range from shrieks to growls, giving the music extra textures and helping to keep things interesting and prevent stagnation – a lot of extreme metal suffers from repetitive vocals, but this is definitely not the case here.
Given that much of the album is played at blistering pace, it does risk becoming an exhausting listen at points, but there are changes of tempo and emphasis to help prevent this. Fourth track “The Slaves Of This World” opens with a slow, doomy passage before the tempo picks up, and “On The Nature Of Mankind” features some impressive acoustic work and mid-tempo passages. Furthermore, there is a lot going on in these songs, and there are multiple guitar lines buried in the mix and the bass is not often prominent; as such, it can take several listens to fully appreciate what the band are doing. This is hardly a complaint, though. There are enough immediate thrills to initially draw the listener in, especially with the sense of energy prevalent throughout the album, and you will not have to “work” in order to enjoy or understand this album. Instead, it’s to the band’s credit that they have created something so initially appealing that proves to have further depth and appeal.
It’s worth repeating that Hyperborean play a style of metal that I am not usually a fan of. As such, that I find Mythos Of The Great Pestilence such a good listen is especially notable. Compared to their earlier album, The Spirit Of Warfare, it is a huge improvement. Fans of melodic extreme metal are sure to enjoy this album immensely, and they play with enough talent, passion, and variety that even those of us who would not normally listen to the genre could be converted.
Mythos Of The Great Pestilence is available digitally through iTunes. The band also recorded a version of Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, which can be heard on their Youtube and Soundcloud pages.