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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Album Review - Hypno5e: Des Deux L’Une Est L’Autre

Hypno5e is not a band. Hypno5e is a group, or better yet a collection of French artists that dabble in musical extremes, from bludgeoning metal to beautiful harmonization, and combine them in a live setting with conceptual film work to create an overall sensory experience. Of course, this is an album review, so I’ll only be discussing the aural aspect of that experience. And if you have yet to hear Hypno5e, despite the fact that they were featured here on Heavy Planet as a “New Band to Burn One to” nearly a year and a half ago (November 17, 2009 NBTBOT) not to mention that this album was actually released back in 2007, then you definitely want to keep reading, because this is an experience that is not to be missed.

Des Deux L’Une Est L’Autre (French for “of the two, one is the other”) introduces us to Hypno5e’s avant-garde style by way of “Maintained Relevance of Destruction Part 1”. If the song title alone doesn’t clue you in to the ultra-techno-future-metal-psych-core that you’re about to pollute your ears with, then maybe you’ll begin to understand when the opening sample of a French speaking man explodes into a frenzy of guitars and blast beats. This insanity is of course temporary because Hypno5e deals in highs and lows…the two extremes of the musical spectrum…so the song is quickly scaled back to a solitary, peaceful guitar (now overlaid by a French speaking woman) before vocalist Emmanuel Jessua furiously erupts with a monstrous scream and the band launches into a steady groove that is only occasionally interrupted by bursts of speed metal bombast. You have just been introduced to the world of Hypno5e…buckle up.

Along with Jessua, who I should mention, is also responsible for guitars, piano, programming and visualization, the band consists of Jeremie Lautier on guitar, Gredin on bass and Thibault Lamy on drums and programming. Des Deux L’Une Est L’Autre continues with part 2 of “Maintained Relevance…” which is much more subtle and ambient than the first track and features a striking guest vocal appearance from Ilène Grange. In fact, when combined, she and Jessua’s voices create a haunting duet in this song as they repeat the lyric “stone me to death”, while the music steadily builds behind them, heading towards an eventual climax. As this continues, Ilene’s vocals take on an almost operatic quality, the music finally reaches that peak and Jessua’s voice transitions into the brutal scream we heard in part 1. The experience can be best described as disturbingly beautiful.

“Daybreak at Slaughter-House” is one of the more aggressive tracks on Des Deux L’Une Est L’Autre as it combines the down-tuned, syncopation of nu-metal acts like Slipknot, the melodic death metal of In Flames and the spastic math-core of Dillinger Escape Plan with Hypno5e’s own ambiance, to create a uniquely epic song that is rampant with burgeoning intensity. “H492053” is an instrumental featuring more French voiceover samples overlaid by a trance inducing composition of guitar and voice that is occasionally crushed by massive waves of riffs and rolling drum beats. And “The Hole”…shit man, this song is frighteningly psychotic, featuring multiple time signature shifts, tempo changes galore and vocals that run the gamut from crooning to growling to shrieking and back again (and include a guest turn by Milka, vocalist for fellow French art-metallists My Own Private Alaska).

Go ahead and take a deep breath, because you’re only halfway through Hypno5e’s onslaught. Wait till you check out the buildup in “Scarlet Fever”, which is over eleven minutes of brutality interlaced with programming snippets and piano interludes that always manage to rebuild and ultimately return to the explosive tech-metal that is its backbone. And don’t get me started on Jessua’s vocals in this one, for the love of God they were so intense I was afraid the man’s vocal chords were going to explode. Speaking of those vocals, “Tutuguri” is the last you’ll hear of them. This song is Hypno5e trying to outdo even themselves in the time signature department as it is an epilepsy inducing slab of chaos that calls to mind the technicality of a band like Meshuggah…a sludgy, abstract piece of noise-core bliss.

Des Deux L’Une Est L’Autre concludes with three instrumental tracks, beginning with a two part tribute to William S. Burroughs’ classic novel Naked Lunch that is easily as ambient, eclectic and weird as the book that inspired it. Part 1 is a flurry of voice samples, drum loops and orchestration that eventually transitions into the sinister techno beats and heavy ass groove of the second part. And “Remords Posthumes” is the band’s final act, bringing their impressive album to a close amidst a collage of opera singing, piano and more eerie voiceovers…with the final sound being a lone piano key struck repeatedly.

With Des Deux L’Une Est L’Autre, Hypno5e has created one of the best metal albums I’ve heard in years. There is so much going on here with the tempo shifts, stylistic changeups, samples and sheer vocal insanity, that it would be easy to lump these guys in with all the other experimental noise acts out there…but that would be a mistake. Don’t get me wrong…hearing all of those elements thrown into the mix does require a degree of listener patience…not to mention that six of the ten songs clock in at seven minutes or longer (three of which exceed ten). But Hypno5e keeps your interest by creating a stimulating world of aural riddles and auditory brain teasers. They never lose their focus and they keep you guessing right up until the end. I can’t recommend this album enough.

Track Listing:

01 Maintained Relevance of Destruction Part 1
02 Maintained Relevance of Destruction Part 2 (featuring Ilène Grange)
03 Daybreak at Slaughter-House
04 H492053
05 The Hole (featuring Milka)
06 Scarlet Fever
07 Tutuguri
08 Naked Lunch I
09 Naked Lunch II
10 Remords Posthumes

Band Members:

Emmanuel Jessua - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Programming and Visualization
Jeremie Lautier - Guitar
Gredin - Bass
Thibault Lamy - Drums and Programming

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