Hieroglyph are a progressive tech metal band hailing from Leeds and London who burst on to the scene back in 2014 with both a double single Parasitus/Ozymandias and then the amazing breakthough EP ‘Freefall’. They have appeared on several ‘ones to watch’ lists since, have played support to many bands and built up a faithful following who, like me, have been awaiting their debut album ‘Ouroborus’ with great hope for some time!
The album is a concept built on the first 11 cards of the tarot, each song themed with a card from opener Solar (The Fool) to the close Ouroborus (The Magician) giving each tune a unique feel and approach and this is quite evident in the musical styles of each. Despite the length of the album there is plenty of variety throughout which keeps the listener engaged and wondering where the hell the next song will take them, even the individual tracks themselves weave through a variety of melodic and rhythmic turns to keep the listener guessing.
‘Solar (The Fool)’ eases us in with a slow paced brooding style and showcases early the differing vocal melodies used by the dual vocalists Valentina Soricaro and Mark Howes which have made Hieroglyph stand out so much in an often crowded scene. ‘Samsara (The Wheel of Fortune)’ is next up and had me in awe from the very first riff which was longer than some solos I have heard from other bands! The technicality in this song builds with the melody before dropping into an unexpected beatdown.
The album varies in pace and style constantly, ‘Enochian (The Hermit)’ is built on a frantically technical guitar riff before dropping off into a verse segment with some great interplay between the bass and rhythm guitar whilst ‘Rise and Fall (Strength)’ has a slower paced stomping feel to it which is accented by the staccato delivery of the vocals.
‘Jopari (The Chariot)’ sees Mark take the lead vocals for the bulk of its length, a slow and crushing tune which shows his own versatility with both clean and aggressive styles, whilst ‘Mandragora/Luna (The Lovers)’ sees both vocalists playoff together over a disturbing chord progression to create one of the most memorable and disturbing moments of the album.
The latter half of the album is as varied as the first, Crown ‘(The Hierophant)’ is a brutal number which wouldn’t sound out of place on the latest Shokran album whilst the electronics which have been subtle in the background of each tune take the forefront for the industrial sounding ‘The Butterfly (The Emporer)’.
‘Sapphire (The Empress)’ is a slower, more soulful sounding tune with crashing rythms played against floating melodies leading into the first official single from the album ‘Starlight (The High Priestess)’ which is the perfect tune for anyone new to the band, somehow condensing the overall sound of the band into one of the shortest songs on the album, the mid-section of which has the most frantic yet controlled drumming which is hypnotic! ‘Ouroborus (The Magician)’ is the final track, weighing in a hefty 13 plus minutes it perfectly embodies every trick in the album and has some beautifully progressive moments along its length.
Ouroborus is a large body of work that has so many ideas bursting to be heard throughout, songs often start in one direction only to lead you through or towards a different soundscape. Its an album you will find yourself returning to many times only to discover something new with each listen. There are many influences to be heard on the record, I personally felt Lacuna Coil, The Contortionist, Shokran and Fallujah’s presence in its many twists and turns, yet nothing felt like a copy of anyone. Hieroglyph should be proud of themselves, this is a hugely impressive debut album and they deserve all they praise I hope they receive.
Oroborus is due out on the 18th of November.