Hemina - VenusAlbum length is an ongoing discussion here at Angry Metal Guy, with one side arguing for more material and the option to listen in parts or mix tracks into playlists, and the correct side arguing for self-editing, trimming the fat and creating a cohesive listening experience. Previously, the poster child for the discussion was our overlord’s own review of Iron Maiden‘s Book of Souls album, which infamously ran for 90 minutes where an hour would have sufficed. Lack of editing meant all the weaker parts clogged up everything awesome about the album and blocked the flow. Well boss, if you are looking for an aneurysm, I think I may have the album for you.

Hemina play Dream Theateresque progressive metal, setting themselves apart with an eclectic vocal repertoire and djenty syncopated rhythm guitars. The brunt of the vocals are classic clean power metal but there’s a lot of variety with choirs, female vocals, harmonization, and even some screams. And falsetto backing vocals. The clean vocals are generally competent but they don’t impress much and the rapid switching between styles makes for a dramatic mountain of lactose. Like Dream Theater, Hemina loves their solos, and the 80-minute disc is just stuffed with them, in both keyboard and guitar variety. And saxophone. Plus they use a pan flute in the closer. All of these ideas are employed to varying degrees of success in the name of love, as evidenced by the album title, examining various subtopics around the theme.

In my Existance review, I asserted my dislike of metal love songs. Love as a theme has been so played out by mainstream music there are barely any ways to discuss it that don’t involve beating dead horses even further into the mile-deep hole dug by all the previous beatings. Contrasting with other subjects works, but love never remains the main theme, shifting to loss and obsession, so I don’t think it works as a main theme anymore. Unfortunately, Venus does very little to prove me wrong. Both lyrically and musically the album is gooey like toffee pudding and just as teeth-shatteringly sweet. On “Expect the Unexpected” the band croons in harmony ‘Trust is a must / And I want you / I’m feeling sticky,’ which has the adverse effect of making the listener feel sticky as well. The saxophone solos draw from Marvin Gaye and Careless Whisper, containing all the subtlety of a bad romantic comedy. Combined with the awful cover the whole album flashes a nauseatingly sultry grimace with the horribly perfumed rose bouquet of a $0.99 Danielle Steele rip-off paperback.

Hemina 2016

Great songwriting could save the heap of cheese, but the editing, or rather the lack thereof, takes this idea out the back and shoots it in the neck. The album is absolutely crammed with ideas both good and bad, and excising the tumors would have easily dropped 30 minutes of running time. The biggest hurdle is the aforementioned second track, an extremely ill-advised cuddly soft rock song where the band croons their way through tepid clichés with husky voices and dives deep into the uncanny valley of attraction, winding up as desirable as roadkill. No singular track is quite this bad, but questionable songwriting choices litter the otherwise agreeable album and Hemina seems unable to choose between any of them, leaving them to stretch 6-minute songs past the double digits and extending the album far past the breaking point.

There’s enough material that works to construct a decent disc here, even disregarding the cliché theme and cheese curds. The solos, though overpopulated, are genuinely good and really lift up the weaker chunks. The instrumentation is generally solid and it makes up somewhat for the cringe manifesting from the vocals and lyrics. But the forest is bogged down by the trees and pruning is nonexistent. Without a concerted effort to edit the album down to its strongest points there is little reason to seek this out for anyone but the most die-hard Dream Theater-loving desperate housewife. It’s a tale of star-crossed love metal.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-release
Websites: hemina.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/heminamusic
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2016

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  • Is it me or does the woman on the cover look like Jennifer Aniston?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It really does. This is disturbing.

      • Not if you dig Jennifer Aniston.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        But Jennifer Aniston is HOT (well, at least she used to be).

        • Oscar Albretsen

          And she really dooes look like Jennifer Aniston. Hair a bit longer. I could buy like 3 copies of this CD so I’d have something yummy to dine on.

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          Just Googled her for reference and she is probably the most attractive 47 year old I have ever seen

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            You must be really young if you needed to Google her.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            Haha I’ve only seen her in Friends. Not in anything recent, hence me seeing if things had changed

    • Kronos

      I love Kung Fu

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I think you’re seeing what you want to see. Or what you and Brad Pitt want to see.

      • Aguy

        No, I’m gonna third this. She really does look like Jennifer Aniston.

      • Name’s Dalton

        The comments section for this review is GOLD!

  • Scourge

    Ok, Highlights magazine time! How many Venus symbols (♀) can you find on that album cover? And that’s the extent of the enjoyment this album will provide me…

  • Scourge

    Also, in regards to the embedded track… Why would an album called Venus by a band with a female bassist have trade-off male vocals that barely distinguish themselves one from the other, and no female vocals? This is dumb.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Perhaps because of the lyrical themes that this reviewer was so against – beauty and love. Doesn’t have to be SUNG by a woman.

      • Scourge

        Except for the fact that part of the chorus I believe is “…I am Venus” so it seems like a wasted opportunity.

        • Oscar Albretsen

          Well, I don’t think there actually is a male god of love and beauty. More likely reason – she’s just not that great of a singer.

          • Scourge

            Eros?

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Yeah, but who wants to look at a dude’s wang on the album cover? He and Cupid are similar, but more sexual than Venus.

          • sir_c

            Eros = Cupid: Greek vs. Roman :-)

            Venus would be called Aphrodite in Greek mythology.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Yeah, exactly. Venus = Aphrodite, and Eros = Cupid.

          • Mark Nagy

            It’s not that Jessica isn’t that great, because she has parts on Venus, and I, and a few others I can’t think of. The real reason is that Doug is really, really good. You can only justify giving away so many lead parts to other members of the band.

          • Exitium

            Adonis anyone?

          • Scourge

            Sure, but let’s be honest, if the line was “…I am Cupid” it would at least be gender appropriate to the vocalist, but sound even dumber.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            I’ll give you that.

          • [not a Dr]

            What if it’s a goat’s wang?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            What about the god Pan? He’s a god of fertility and has the legs and horns of a goat. Sex and Metal rolled into one!

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Hey, that could work! Now that you mention him, I’m actually kind of surprised I haven’t seen him on more metal album covers.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            A sex-crazed half-man, half-goat. Definitely should be on more Metal covers.

          • [not a Dr]

            He can be seen farting a rainbow on Estate’s Fantasia album cover.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Amazing no oneelse thought about the “maybe she’s just not that great of a singer” option.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            I’m sure I was the only one.

          • [not a Dr]

            Or would rather just play the bass?

        • [not a Dr]

          The Gentle Storm have all the guy lines sung by a woman. King Diamond sings all the female lines in his songs (e.g. “I’m having your baby my love”).
          I don’t think it’s an issue.

  • Grawmps

    Lmao. Everything you cited as a “bad idea” sounds amazing to me. I liked Dream Theater’s Images & Words for similar reasons, and that album is considered groundbreaking in many circles. Just goes to show you the subjectivity of taste.

    Honestly, I don’t like reviews that come off as defensive, and this review is a textbook example of that. There are people who take that exact same approach with grindcore…and it never ends well.

    5/5 release to me after two run-throughs. The sax is great, the harmonies are awesome. Love may be a subject that’s been beaten to death, but these guys wanted to do a concept record relating to it and did just fine.

    • GardensTale

      And all the power to you for it. I never meant this to be defensive though. Just stating why the album is not very good imo in spite of plenty decent-to-good elements.

      • Grawmps

        Fair enough. But you have to admit that ‘High Kite Ride’ and ‘Dream State Of Mind’ are pretty catchy, no? *playful elbow jab* :)

      • Oscar Albretsen

        You may want to stick to grindcore and doom metal. Very little chance of someone saying anything positive that would come off as a “$0.99 Danielle Steele rip-off paperback” to you. This review comes off as a $0.99 Rush Limbaugh rip-off paperback” to me.

        • GardensTale

          Are you a member of the band? It kind of feels like you are taking this personally. I explained my stance on the love subject in reply to your other comment, in which I mentioned loving last year’s most cheerful power metal album.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Well, you’re the reviewer, and I’m not, so it’s not like I can actually do anything other than bitch. Still though, it’s not like people are usually expecting amazingly inciteful, Dylan/Cohenesque lyrics when they grab a power metal album. I’m nnot trying to insult you or anything, but I just honestly feel positivity in lyrics isn’t a very fair reason to be fully against something.

            But, you didn’t like the actual music much either, so I will give you that.

          • GardensTale

            If the music had been good it really would not have been a dealbreaker, no. But the music is already unedited and very sappy, and the lyrics just exacerbate that to the point where it becomes a real detriment to the album as a whole.

            Also, positivity really is no problem for me, I actually like it when bands go that way. Devin Townsend, Gloryhammer and other power metal bands, I love that kind of happy cheesy shit. But this isn’t so much happy as sappy and sticky to me. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

    • Scourge

      Actually, I’m not sure you can write an opinion piece about something you don’t like and sound “defensive” just because you don’t like it. Unless you’re accusing him of defending his opinion, within the very body of his opinion, which is, you know, his opinion in an opinion piece. Go figure. Regardless of who’s being defensive, this album is indefensible.

      IMO of course.

      • Grawmps

        Lol. There are a million things I could argue in rebuttal to this review. I could say, for instance, that some of the reference points are lazy / wrong. These guys draw from a bigger pool of genre influences than most metal groups. That sax work definitely isn’t Wham’s Careless Whisper: its Pink Floyd circa DSOTM or maybe Gerry Rafferty. I hear David Bowie, David Sylvian and Mike Patton at times too. It’s also obvious that they like djent, but there’s also a strong jazz-fusion influence too. Not fusion “wankery for the sake of it” but in the way they build atmosphere in some of the songs. The fact they were able to pull these influences together and still sound reasonably coherent is something they should be praised for, but it looks like this is a case where the band’s influences aren’t appreciated rather than the music being bad itself.

        I have no problems with people stating their opinions, but since opinion pieces are by definition not objective things, the least that can be done is to make sure you understand where the band is coming from and what they’re trying to do.

        • Scourge

          As a fan of both WHAM! and Pink Floyd, and as 1st chair saxophonist at Mountain Valley Middle School 1986/7 (the only band member to get a 1 in competition, winner of the Silver Medal for overall performance throughout the year [gold went to my friend who played trombone who said, and I quote, “You should have won.”] and the only member of the band asked to do solos during evening concerts, and verbally regarded as a future “lady killer” by certain moms in the crowd), I take umbrage to your comparison of the sax here to DSOTM era Pink Floyd because you’re a mile-and-a-half off on that reference good sir.

          • Grawmps

            Maybe I should have said “closer to” as opposed to “exactly like”. :P

          • This gets my vote for AMG Comment o’ the Decade.

          • Scourge

            My bonafides are bonafide.

          • [not a Dr]

            Who would dare argue with certain moms in the crowd?

          • Grymm

            *claps rapturously*

            Just DAMN!

          • METAL OTTER

            “…good sir”

            A lady killer AND a gentleman, oh my

    • Andrew Bennett

      The theme is not strictly about love at all. If one looks deeper into the lyrics of the album, it’s really quite often about abusive relationships and objectification of women.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Book of Souls WASN’T too long, you guys just need stronger attention spans. Two full albums od MAIDEN, for chrissake!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    What’s the problem with metal love songs? Because love songs are “overdone by the mainstream,” you need all your metal to be dark and depressing? So, that hasn’t at all been overdone by the metal genre, eh? The style of music doesn’t require a lyrical tone. If someone is optimistic about life, their lyrics should be able to reflect that without people crying about it simply because they’re not negative enough.

    • GardensTale

      One of my favorite albums last year was Gloryhammer. Doesn’t get much happier than that. But there is hardly anything you can say about love that isn’t saturated with cliche upon cliche, including how you can’t put it into words to begin with. Metal is practically the antithesis of mainstream music, which is even more covered and permeated by the subject. Like the rest of the album, too much is just too much.

      I’m happy to be proven wrong in this aspect, by the way. But a love song needs to be incredibly personal and heartfelt to make any impression on me. Here it just feels so very hokey.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Well, obviously you’re entitled to your opinion, but I still think you’re way off on this. There’s a reason it’s a widely covered subject, and generally, it’s not just because people can’t think of anything to say. Saying you can’t say anything about love that isn’t saturated with “cliche upon cliche” is completely misleading. I could say the exact same thing about bleak/dark lyrics by bands That I love such as Pallbearer or The Vision Bleak. Lyrically, the subject matter is the same at the end of the day, so you could say it’s just full of “cliche upon cliche.” Clearly, you just don’t like a band having positive subject matter, and your entire review is brimming with “cliche upon cliche” and “metaphor upon metaphor” about this. Just because metal isn’t technically a mainstream genre is an incredibly insubstantial reason to feel it should be limited in subject matter.

        Honestly, the embedded track didn’t do much for me musically (a bit heavy on the horns for my personal taste) but I simply can’t understand the reasoning behind not mainsream = not allowed to be in a good mood.

  • sir_c

    Too many cooks spoil the food is what they say, and after listening to the embedded track I think they can indeed improve a lot by halving the ingredients in one song and then working out the good parts a bit more.
    If they can do that, that’ll be a good starting point for something good.

  • Vikram Shankar

    Just in case anyone is scared away by this review, I urge you to check it out anyways and give it a fair shot. I picked this up yesterday and listened to all of it three straight times because I was so blown away. There are traces of pretty much everything in prog I love, from sick vocal harmonies to shred to djenty groove to overall sonic variety to emotional impact. Basically, if you locked Pain of Salvation in a room for six months making them listen to nothing but Voyager, and then told them to write a record, you might get something like this, and it’s glorious.

    • gabejbk

      Agreed. People should check this out despite the bad review. and YES, I could also taste some Voyager in that flavor haha

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Just judging from the embedded track, I really found the addition of Sax to Prog as a nice idea. I REALLY liked the embedded track.. Would have to listen to the whole thing, which I am very inclined to.

  • Bloated Goat

    This website seems to consistently lavish praise on mediocre prog metal (latest Pyramaze was samey and dull) and pan great prog metal.

    Hemina are one of the most exciting bands in prog right now and the album that precedes the latest is fantastic. What I’ve heard of this album suggests it’ll be awesome too.

  • Nathan

    Hey dude.
    Nathan from Hemina here. Cheers for taking the time to listen and write a review!

    Just thought I’d clarify that many of the songs are almost the antithesis of love, and are about the places in your psyche that you go to / the fucked up things you do and feel, when love goes wrong, terribly wrong.

    Ironically the cheesy cover is actually a trapped woman longing for the world outside the window. If anyone purchases the physical CD, which shamelessly ill say is awesome, it might be more apparent that her life ain’t so great, and the lyrics are generally about things going more wrong than right.

    Anyways, enough jibber jabber. Like it or loathe it, I’m stoked that people are listening. Cheers again!

    m/

    • GardensTale

      Hey Nathan, congrats on the album! And thanks for taking the criticism in stride, I can tell you not every band that commented on a non-stellar review has been that gracious. Sorry I couldn’t give it a more positive review! Luckily it’s just one more opinion, and by the looks of the comments here there’s plenty of folks disagreeing with me, which is of course good news. Thanks for reading!

    • OzanCan

      I just made my wife listen to the embedded track and she said she enjoyed it. She loves progressive and power metal a lot than the other genres so you guys are good to go :)
      Now, come to Istanbul and give us a show >:D \m//

      • Nathan

        Cok tesekkur ederim Ozan! Cok sag olun!!!

        Istanbul’ya gitmeliyiz!

        Cheers for your kind words. I love Istanbul and can’t wait to go back!

        – Nathan From Hemina

  • RyanM1985

    “Hemina play Dream Theateresque progressive metal”…I’m out.

  • Jason Spencer

    This is an ill-informed, naive review. The fact that you mentioned Dream Theater at all proves that. You understand neither the music nor the lyrical themes here.

  • marcus

    Gotta say I had a chuckle over this review.Remember once I took offense to someone on youtube having a go at some of Hemina’s work off Synthetic.I love what this band has done and accomplished.I have an interest in this cause Mitch who plays guitar here is my nephew.I got very defensive but was reminded that everyone is entitled to their opinion.I’m very proud of what these guys and gal have done.All I would say is take all reviews with a grain of salt.Listen to it.If you aren’t sure or don’t like it fair enough.If however you do like it then support Hemina by dropping a comment here or on Facebook or buy it.Just 4 people doing what they love.Well done Hemina.Thanks for reading this.

  • Never Let Me Down era David Bowie Metal! Embarrassing as it is, I must admit this is my jam.

  • Innit Bartender

    I never knew there could be such a thing as “80s-era Marillion Fanfiction” but that cover is just that. Now I gotta read the book though, I got nothing against saxes or love themes in metal, so…

  • I think this is rather good. I’ve only listened to 3 tracks, but I’ll be listening to more. It’s certainly more interesting than most prog metal that’s come out this year. I think the second song is actually great, apart from some of the lyrics, which are admittedly a bit of a turn off.

  • Exitium

    That cover reminded me so much of Helloween Keeper covers.