Each subgenre of black metal has its particular foibles, but perhaps none bears the same level of trademark idiosyncrasy as melodic black metal: popularized by Deception and Sacramentum, instead of stripping down or changing the black metal formula of straightforward aggression and storming fury, it ups the ante, using the genre’s sound as a base for grand, sweeping compositions filled with classical-inspired melodies and tinges of folk metal (and much better production qualities). At its worst, it’s an interesting alternative take on the genre that fleshes out the black metal skeleton; at its best, everything trademark about the typical black metal sound is present but at levels that invoke a much grander emotive quality than straightforward black metal could ever hope to.
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Taking the classic melodic black metal formula and adding a dash of Emperor-inspired theatrics, Hyperion knows exactly how to capture an audience with their newest release, the full-length Seraphical Euphony. After the suitably epic-sounding intro, the first substantial track, “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” kicks it into high gear immediately: furious tremolo riffing and mile-a-minute blast beats rain down on the listener’s ear ceaselessly, projecting an all-out assault of crushing proportions onto the now-dominated audience. The captivating performance continues as the track moves into a slightly slower territory later on and the drums settle into a powerful groove, still propelling the track forward. Indeed, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” shows off exactly what makes Hyperion such a compelling band to listen to as it switches from an inferno of unceasing rage into a quieter bridge – the calm before the storm’s second coming – and back into the incensed, heated blasts of black metal that carry enough energy to get any listener nodding their head along.
Seraphical Euphony‘s inimitable trick lies in its understanding of the dynamics that make melodic black metal such a great subgenre: the interplay between typical black metal speed and chunky, heavier riffs, the balance between the different instruments, and, most importantly, the equilibrium between heavy and light. Every bit of the album feels perfectly tempered for maximum effect, and not a second feels wasted by the band. Each song is to-the-point, and it’s rare to find that in a genre that is so constantly intent on wandering. If you like your black metal concentrated and heavy as hell, do yourself a favor and give this band a listen.