While all things black, post-, and continental usually fall to the voracious maw of Muppet, every so often there comes a time for more level-headed reviewers to rate these albums below a 4.0. After all, the kid just recently learned of the existence of Throatruiner Records, so he’ll have to take some time to deal with that boon in private. Your guide today is taking time out of a bustling schedule of mediocre death metal to thrash out the merits and demerits of the sophomore offering from Poland’s Hegemone, entitled We Disappear. And indeed they will — don’t we all — but the question is of course when, and a quality post-metal album such as this suggests the time is not yet nigh.
Hegemone carve their shapes from common materials but re-construct them in sculptural forms. “Mara” drones in on a riff repeated ad nauseam, and just as it breaks a simple synth melody takes the fore, backed up by a wall of sound dominated by the chunky bass. “Тәңірі,” again uses synths to carry the album forward out of a delicate post-rock melody. Shouts and shrieks cry out not from torture but from weariness and add texture rather than text to these pensive compositions. We Disappear draws one along rather than in, and the album’s greatest asset is the momentum — no matter how long it drones, it always feels propelled, going somewhere new.
But the path it takes is not straightforward. Be it the abrupt ending of “Π,” or the startling female vocals of “Хан Тәңірі” — a rare addition of atypical instrumentation — the strategy here interrupts as often as it transitions. “Хан Тәңірі” seems to stumble after a moment, only to gallop into a triumphant snare-led blackened climb. Straddling the line between post-metal and atmospheric black metal, these songs meld the experimentation of the former with the intensity of the latter to great effect. As a whole, We Disappear follows expectations for a cinematic post-metal record, and if that’s what you want out of it, you’ll be more than happy with the results. It’s not an album with many incredible moments or spectacles of performance, but Hegemone know how to execute an album that feels whole, and at fifty-one minutes, We Disappear is just long enough to be expansive without getting too big for its britches.
Production and performances are on point here as well — though post metal often takes a wall-of-sound approach to composition that wall never pushes a flat face forward. The bass, guitars, and drums are all well separated, and vocals cut through the turmoil with ease when they appear. Even the beginning of “Тәңірі,” the album’s most forceful blast, preserves detail and dome dynamicism. As is tradition, the album is mastered down to DR6, and a few of the quieter moments suffer from this lack of dynamic range, but the album itself never stops sounding crisp and lively.
We Disappear might not be the next mile marker on the desert expanse of post-metal, but it certainly covers some ground. The album’s scope and mod are right on the money and don’t ask for the expensive buy-in that many other post-metal albums command, and it’s as easy to pick up in the middle as it is at the very start. If this were a beer, it would call itself “sessionable” on the back label. With compelling songs, appropriate production, and an air of mystery, We Disappear more than fulfills the promise of that gorgeous album artwork and provides a great introduction for those who, like myself, are just hearing Hegemone for the first time now. It might not be a year-end contender, but that doesn’t mean a fan of this style won’t find a reason to come back to this album on occasion for a long time coming.