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Evoken - Hypnagogia

Evoken
Hyp­n­ago­gia
2018, Pro­found Lore

Doom giants from back in the day usu­ally take their time on a new album, and Evoken are no excep­tion. Six years after Atra Mors (reviewed here), right at the point where you start won­der­ing if the band is still act­ive, we get Hyp­n­ago­gia, their sixth album in 25 years. I feel old now.

Evoken’s style has always been on the bor­der between the intense riff­age of doomy death metal and the slow pon­der­ings of funeral doom. On this latest album, the band chooses the middle ground more than ever: a slow to mid-tempo doom/death crawl that leaves ample room for lead gui­tars and synths to shine.

Strings are back on Hyp­n­ago­gia in a big way, with synth cello embel­lish­ing the tracks in key moments. This draws the album close to what still remains the band’s mas­ter­piece, Quietus. It seems almost unfair to com­pare those two albums as the 2000 work has an almost unas­sail­able pos­i­tion in my pan­theon of doom clas­sics. And indeed, Hyp­n­ago­gialacks some­thing of the focus, relent­less­ness, and dynam­ics of its ancestor.

Like I said, the com­par­ison is some­what unfair, and def­in­itely not the most rel­ev­ant one we could make. Let’s com­pare Hyp­n­ago­gia to, say, its con­tem­por­ar­ies, and we find that no one nowadays sounds quite like Evoken. The com­pos­i­tions have a bent to them that other bands can’t or won’t touch, and that’s fine; many of them belong to a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion. This is not to say that Evoken sounds old-fash­ioned. A more cor­rect word would be ven­er­able: a group of older dudes tap­ping from a well that many young­sters wouldn’t know the way to.

The band’s 2002 Promo con­tin­ues to be a sem­inal piece, as some of the final unused riffs from that era have made their way into “Schaden­freude”. But more gen­er­ally too Evoken man­age to build on their own leg­acy here without repeat­ing them­selves, which is no mean feat. There are flour­ishes in the riff­age and espe­cially the synth melod­ies that you will find nowhere else in their dis­co­graphy.

Hyp­n­ago­gia, then, is Evoken’s most rel­ev­ant record since Anti­thesis of Light, and proof that bands can rein­vent them­selves in subtle ways over the course of a quarter of a cen­tury, while stay­ing true to their own sound, which is after all that time still quite unique in the metal world.

Hyp­n­ago­gia is out on Novem­ber 9th through Pro­found Lore.


Reviewed by Μηλινόη