Our Dying World – Hymns of Blinding Darkness Review

In the classic sci-fi movie The Fly, a scientist tests an experimental teleportation device. Unknown to him, a fly slips into the chamber and his body gets reconstructed with the fly’s head when he materializes on the other end. Similarly, it seems that as Our Dying World was recording their newest record, someone slipped a copy of Metallica’s S&M into the chamber and the results are as equally horrifying and fascinating. How did this L.A. band that debuted with the hard-hitting melodeath EP, Expedition turn into a bloated classical mash-up in such a short time? And are the results worth the added running time? Roll the tape.

Hymns of Blinding darkness is a perplexing mix of killer guitar riffs and fantasy soundtrack music. Imagine if Howard Shore had teamed up with Michael Amott to score The Lord of The Rings movies. It may sound good on paper but the opening track, “Everything We Know is Gone” is a perfect example of what could go wrong. The song both rocks and confounds with blazing melodic riffs that quickly become drowned out by bombastic symphonic flourishes. I’m a firm believer that keyboards can rock but here they distract from the groove the guitars set down. To make matters worse, the song ends with a keyboard fanfare that may as well be in the next Shrek movie. It’s hard to move forward, but there are a couple of gems. “Survivor” is a mid-album slowdown that best incorporates the band’s rock and symphonic elements. It also features the album’s most tasty and emotional guitar work and some compelling clean vocals. The band saves the best for last; “Veil of the Reaper” is a ripper that wakes you up just in time for the album to end. The beginning dual guitar and bass drum attack prove that they can bring the heat when they want to. The keyboards creep in during the second verse but aren’t as offensive and never dilute the killer momentum of this banger.

The musicians in Our Dying World are all clearly talented, but the dramatic arrangements rarely let them shine through. The band was formed by drummer/guitarist Tom Tierney whose thrash influences from his brief stint in Whiplash show.1 He’s joined by two guitar players: Raymond Sanchez and Austin Mitrofanis, bassist Nck Loxx, keyboardist/composer Graham Southern and vocalist David Ainsworth. The band boasts that this album was written collaboratively but the final product suggests too many cooks in the kitchen. Where Expedition benefited from a singular thrash-infused melodeath vision, Hymns meanders through castle keeps and Nightwish fever dreams. Ainsworth’s voice is strong and works valiantly to tie all the threads together but ultimately fails from a one-dimensional delivery that is more growl than testicle.

The mix on Hymns of Blinding Darkness is packed. To producer Alex Crescioni’s credit, nothing feels completely lost but there is almost always too much going on. The net effect is like trying to listen to an Omnium Gatherum record while someone has the TV volume way up in the next room. While the production is brighter and lusher than the stripped-down Expedition, the change comes at a cost. The drums, which sounded mighty in the former feel compressed and less prominent here. It’s only in the final track that they really punch through. This could be a heavy record but, unfortunately, the keyboards suffocate the heft of the guitars. The riffs and licks that could so easily stand on their own get lost. Bassist, Nick Loxx however does a great job keeping the galloping energy up and serves the songs well.

Ever since the Moody Blues recorded Days of Future Passed way back in 1967, bands have experimented with combining rock and classical music. Metal bands like Therion and Fleshgod Apocalypse have carved out unique niches and inspired many other power and death metal bands to let their keyboard player on stage. Unfortunately, nothing feels unique or new here. The best parts of this record – the blistering guitar riffs – are overshadowed. Our Dying World feels like a band in the midst of an identity crisis. The epic scope and heroic tone throughout Hymns of Blinding Darkness suggest the band will move to a more power metal sound. Fans who appreciate equal doses of orchestra and mosh pit will likely dig this passionate full-length debut. I see much promise beneath the surface if they can lock down their vision and temper their mix.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: ourdyingworld.com | facebook.com/Our Dying World
Releases Worldwide: June 24th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. If you never heard their Power and Pain album, you are a huge poser. – Steel
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