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Review: Hieroglyph – 'Ouroboros'

Colliding the styles of Vildhjarta and Lacuna Coil, new and upcoming djentarians, Hieroglyph create an unusual blend of female vocals and technical music. Born of Leeds, the tech-instilled progressive metal six-piece combines dual vocals, supplied by leading counterparts Mark Howes and Valentina Reptile, with sludgy guitars and electronica. The unexpected likeness of Valentina’s vocals to that of Italian frontwoman Cristina Scabbia, paired with Mark’s ability of providing clean vocals and screams similar to Swedish Cult Of Luna, create a fresh take on tech metal.

Hieroglyph came forth in 2014, offering up not one, but two singles, ‘Parasitus’ and ‘Ozymandias’, in addition to their breakthrough EP ‘Freefall’. Now, they are ready to unveil their debut album ‘Ouroboros’, released on the 18th November. Based upon the first eleven tarot cards, ‘Ouroboros’ takes the listener on a journey, with each song coinciding with a different card, beginning as The Fool and ending as the Magician.

‘Solar (The Fool)’ was the first single to be released into the wild, before taking it’s place on ‘Ouroboros’ a year later. The album’s opening track demonstrates early on what listeners can expect from the duos differing vocal melodies, and grasp a general sense for the band’s style. ‘Enochian (The Hermit)’ strongly bursts through from ‘Samsara (The Wheel Of Fortune)’ in a way that makes it seem as though it were a different section of the same song. ‘Enochian’ is built on a frenzied guitar riff that is more technical before dropping into a calmer verse with Valentina’s vocals taking lead. Despite the technical playing, and Lacuna Coil-esque vocals, it is quite difficult to differentiate between any set track with many of them sounding the same. That being said, ‘Jopari (The Chariot)’ sees Mark Howes take the lead, and allows for his versatility of screaming and delivering clean vocals to really shine through. The decision to switch leading roles for this track pays off, making for a great mid-point breaker.

‘Rise And Fall (Strength)’, the fourth track, and ‘The Butterfly (The Emperor)’, the eighth track, appear to be connected by the same riff, whether this was purposely done to coincide with the album’s concept, or whether it was just an unconscious occurrence. Released as the album’s lead single, with an accompanying music video, ‘Starlight (The High Priestess)’ features guesting vocals from William Alex Young of Clockwork. ‘Starlight’ is undoubtedly the track that piques the listener’s interest, with its less techie approach, and could appeal more to fans of female fronted metal.

From an individual standpoint, if you listen to the album as a whole, it becomes a bit monotonous. However, tracks like ‘Starlight (The High Priestess)’ are great as a stand-alone listening experience. Influenced by bands such as SiKth, Tesseract, and Tool, Hieroglyph will appeal to fans of tech metal. Some solitary tracks may also appeal to fans of Lacuna Coil.

Review: Naomi Rigley

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