I struggle to find a more nebulous concept in metal than an acceptable amount of influence. Where does worship end and rip-off begin? Does a sublime copycat deserve more praise than pretty good experimentation? Hinayana‘s Order Divine is one of the best-executed melodeath efforts I’ve heard this year. Insomniumaniacs might assert that it’s the least original. How much that matters to you might determine its staying power. I can’t imagine what it says about me that Order Divine is handily one of my favorite records of 2018.
From the opening intonations of “Gateway” and “The Window” through the dying light of “Conduit Closing,” Order Divine wrings enough introspective poignancy from their Finnish font to fill the deepest of sadboy stores. But as one might expect from Texas, that tear bucket doubles as a spittoon, and a damn big one at that. Order Divine, in ways that Insomnium often avoids, is fucking monstrous. Taking cues from a smoke-filled death/doom scene and the recent meatiness of Winter’s Gate, the record takes up two lanes with its gargantuan presence. As such, Hinayana never get off the blocks the way those hoping for propulsive Across and/or Above the Dark, Weeping World melody lines might want. But don’t fucking trip: when Hinayana finally gets up to speed, eighteen wheels of rumbling misery, get moving or get flattened.
Yes, the best moments on the album are undoubtedly Insomnium. “Revelation” plies the slickest Insomnium tap riff in years and the catchiest chorus you’ll ever hear bellowed by an industrial rock crusher. The whisper sections of “Return to Nothing” tries to wring you, like a strange cold hand. Michael Anstice’s key backing of “Pick a Song, Any Song” should be the Finnish national anthem. Yet the weight of it all—Casey Hurd’s collapsing-star growls, Daniel Vieira’s beat selection, the plodding production that makes quicker moments feel like they’re played at half-speed—constantly remind me that it’s Hinayana rattling my desk with its massive bottom end. The tortoise throttle may hinder them in the long run; Order Divine‘s 35 minutes simultaneously run too short for such a delicious debut and just right for a sound dangerously close to one-note. Handling both issues in tandem will unlock even loftier heights for the Texans next time out.
I’ve previously discussed my appreciation for acts like Sacrificed Alliance and Shylmagoghnar blowing the genre toward progressive shores. With so much meat and potatoes melodeath doing nothing but keeping your local sound engineer afloat, getting so jacked up for a band rooted firmly in the familiar feels weird. However, in light of death/doom’s recent surge, an apologist could argue that Hinayana push in on that action, albeit in a more melodic way than Novembers Doom‘s halting performances and Swallow the Sun‘s snore-inducing slog. No matter the take, the result is the same: Hinayana hit this one out of the park. Order Divine ground me into sand the first time I heard it, and I’ve been adrift in the beauty of its starlit night ever since.
Tracks to Check Out: “The Window,” “Revelation,” and “Return to Nothing”