Hierophant - Mass GraveA great war has been waged, ladies and germs. Here at Angry Metal Guy LLC Turbo Hyper-Fighting Edition (Deluxe Remix) HQ, we take our reviews seriously. We slave, day in and day out, to give you, the reader, every bang for your (lack of) buck. But do you know what else we take seriously? Unicorns. Fluffy, majestic steeds of splendor and single-horned destruction that strike fear into the hearts of those who headbutt them or try to mount them from the front. These valiant creatures of yore grace our hallowed pages whenever a band or label decides to not send us a promo pic. So when I receive a promo for a band (in this case, Italy’s Hierophant), and the one-sheet that accompanies their fourth album, Mass Graves, states rather emphatically, “No pink unicorns here,” and they still don’t supply us with a promo pic? Prepare for battle, son.

And after a minute of ambient fluffery and a speech about eternal darkness or whatnot, “Execution of Mankind” blasts forth, sounding like a muffled Nails. Now, let me sidetrack a bit here… you know how we often complain about the loudness of the albums we receive, and how we wish they would give us the choice to create the loudness ourselves? Well, our wish was granted, as this has to be the quietest promo I have ever received in my entire life, mix-wise. I had to crank the volume up to maximum on whatever device I was playing it on, be it my phone or laptop. Even then, it was tough to really make out everything because drummer Ben is mixed front and center. Thankfully, he crushes it, as he’s the only person you can readily make out besides guitarist Lollo’s bellows. Then 40 seconds later, the song ends.

In fact, things don’t really get interesting until the title track appears. My heart fluttered with anticipation at the Bolt Thrower riff lifted right off of The IVth Crusade, hoping to salvage some semblance of hook and melody. Alas, it doesn’t, but the song shows that when the band slows down, hooks dig deep, and a sick groove creates a left-hand path of heaviness. “In Decay” swaggers with Entombed bravado. “Sentenced to Death” combines that feeling with a dash of Vainaja. Closer “Eternal Void,” however, wins as the clear highlight of the album, lurching forth like a confident beast, ready to devour its kill. The tremolo riff in the chorus grips and refuses to let go, building up to a satisfying climax as the song fades out at 3:45… even though it’s an eleven-minute song.

unicorns-pink-and-fluffy

Which leads me to the other qualm I have with this album. Hierophant doesn’t seem sure whether to grind their way to darkened stardom, or to march and crush all those who oppose them in the slowest, most methodical way possible. The latter scenario plays well into their hands, as their sense of melody, groove, and hooks are impeccable. If they decide to go the former route, they would do well to attain a better mix. While there’s no denying the heft of the bass or guitars, the drums drown out almost everything. When they go into rapid fire mode, the songs coalesce into a giant blur. Oh, and “Eternal Void”? Those last seven minutes are just feedback. Guys, if you want to pad out your album, fill it with good songs. Better yet, leave the album as it is. There is no reason to fluff a song out to over triple its length by using feedback. None.

While I may be harsh on Mass Grave, I see ridiculous potential if they can just figure out what they want to do. I’ll keep a watchful eye out for Hierophant in the future. Maybe with a better production and stronger songwriting, they no doubt can crush. Just leave our damn unicorns out of this.

 


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: hierophant.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/hierophantkvlt
Releases Worldwide: November 4th, 2016

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  • Lou Daz

    The featured track is pretty good. I’ll check the rest of the album out.

  • The Unicorn
    • Diego Molero

      Damn, you unicorned the fucking unicorn, genius.

  • AndySynn

    While I liked this one a little bit more than you guys did (probably helped by not having been sent a muffled version… why do people do that… why???) I would still probably say that I prefer “Peste” and “Great Mother…” overall.

    Although “Forever Crucified” is definitely a jam.

    • Name’s Dalton

      I quite like this record. Like a sped-up Generation of Vipers, at times.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Off subject: You guys gonna review that new Riverside album, or not bothering because it’s one of those mainly “b-side” albums? I mean, it’s Riverside!

  • Dead1

    Moral of the story: crank Bolt Thrower, crank Entombed, ignore the new wave of wannabes.

  • Mcleod

    I insta bought this on my way home from work and already gave it like 3 spins and I do think it is still fun but Peste is significantly better. That last track almost crushed its replay potential… Pretty good idea to close your album with nothing but annoying noise. Thanks for the review, maybe too late for me. :D

  • Thatguy

    The dude who burned me for wanting more unicorns will be spinning in his black and lonely grave.

  • Treble Yell

    I really, really like the album art.

    • Mcleod

      Me too, happens to be the same dude who did the inquisition album covers. I just checked his facebook profile, he does some really amazing stuff.

      • Treble Yell

        Ah, that’s why it felt familiar. An obscenely talented artist.

        • Innit Bartender

          Let me guess: Paolo Girardi, our national glory.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Yes, that’s Paolo Girardi and he’s done about 4 thousand Metal album covers.

          • Innit Bartender

            Yeah, I’m a huge fan. The guy is the closest you can come today to Hieronimus Bosch.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            He’s like an Old Master painter living in current times.

    • jetblindracos

      Looks like a viper grinning.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Ah, feedback. In their sixties “primal” period, the Grateful Dead often had an extended section, usually at the end of their concerts, that consisted of nothing but feedback. The feedback track on Live/Dead, for example, pushes eight minutes. Damn hippies and their LSD.

  • brklyner

    Seems a little weird to tell a band that is on their fourth album to figure out what they want to do. Presumably, they did, and I personally see no problem with bands that have both fast and slow songs on their records.

  • Jay Majesty

    I think this album rips