HEMINA — Synthetic

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HEMINA - Synthetic cover
3.90 | 10 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. This Hour of Ours (2:12)
2. To Conceive a Plan (11:27)
3. The Boy is Dead (9:07)
4. For All Wrong Reasons (4:55)
5. And Now to Find a Friend (11:20)
6. With What I See (6:38)
7. Hunting is for Women (6:44)
8. Even in Heaven (7:05)
9. Conduit to the Sky (2:50)
10. Haunting Me! (3:58)
11. Divine (13:28)

Total time: 79:44


- Douglas Skene / Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
- Mitch Coull / Guitars, Vocals
- Andrew Craig / Drums, Percussion
- Jessica Martin / Bass, Vocals
- Phill Eltakchi / Keyboards, Vocals

About this release

Release date: October 11th, 2011
Label: Firestarter Music

Thanks to colt for the addition and diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Conor Fynes
'Synthetic' - Hemina (8/10)

Hemina are part of what I might call the 'progressive metal revival'. Sure, the genre has enjoyed a steady supply of new albums each year, but it's only been relatively lately where I've noticed some of the younger bands stepping up to the plate and coming out with some really excellent music. Among others, Haken from the UK, Circus Maximus from Norway, and Distorted Harmony from Israel come to mind. Along with Caligula's Horse, Hemina is the Australian continent's contribution to this trend, and while it may not be a complete toppling of what has come before in progressive metal, there is no mistaking this style's rejuvenated modernity. "Synthetic" suffers from a few of the setbacks that generally come with an ambitious band first spreading their wings on a full length, but listeners can expect to hear some remarkable progressive metal from Hemina, now and in the coming years.

Hemina was first noticed by the progressive metal community with their self-released EP, "For All We Know". It wasn't long before they started making waves and sowed anticipation among listeners. Fans of that debut will recognize a few songs on "Synthetic"; "For All Wrong Reasons", "With What I See", and "And Now to Find a Friend" have each been given a new layer of shine for this full length. Despite a relatively short two year gap, Hemina have really widened the scope of their sound. Although their somewhat-trademark blend of Dream Theater-style prog metal and emotionally driven power metal is here, Hemina throw in electronic ambiance and even some jazz into what they do on "Synthetic".

Sure, I'd imagine most veteran prog metallers would be rolling their eyes around the time Dream Theater is mentioned as an influence, but Hemina come across as a relatively fresh-sounding act. Like many of their contemporaries in this prog metal 'renaissance', Hemina make their mark by incorporating powerful melodies, not in the traditionally bland 'arena rock' sort of way, but rather in the same sense that a classical composer would paint a hook into his craft. Vocalist Douglas Skene's voice fits the sound perfectly; I'd compare him (favourably) to Roy Kahn's quasi-operatic tenor in Kamelot. With the exception of drummer Andrew Craig (who is presumably too busy backing up the band with his intricate rhythms), every member of the band offers vocals in some capacity. Sadly, the prospect of a heavy metal barbershop quartet is wasted, but the warm voicework in Hemina gives "Synthetic" a warmth that helps bridge that gap between the logical and emotional sides of appreciation that progressive metal infamously so often foregoes.

"Synthetic" has some great songs on it- "And Now to Find a Friend" sounded great on the EP, and it sounds even better here- a prog metal powerhouse with plenty of twists and emotion to it. "For All Wrong Reasons" is a nice melodic reprieve from the otherwise prog- heavy bombast. However, while "Synthetic" is generally consistent and lacks anything I'd call 'filler', the near-eighty minute length feels like it could have used some cutting down. For all of its melodic sensibility, Hemina are a fairly cerebral experience, and taking in so much in one sitting can serve to take away from the enjoyment. Although Hemina have sharpened up their studio craft since "For All We Know", the production here still sounds a little dull; the atmospheric keyboards sound somewhat hollow in parts, and the guitars don't always sound like they're given the proper air to breathe. Luckily, Hemina focus largely on their greatest strength- the vocal aspect. "Synthetic" is a powerful mix of technical riffs and beautiful melodies, and it's no surprise that these guys have been receiving such good press in the prog world lately. At this point, Hemina feel like a band with much to offer, perhaps too much for their own good so early in the game. With this debut, they have delivered enough to get me excited, yet left enough room for improvement to make whatever second album that may come an even greater feat. I'm looking forward to it!
On their debut album Hemina offer a novel variety of progressive metal which provides the band with a unique sound. It draws on both symphonic prog-inspired and space rock-influenced varieties of progressive metal, but it's more sonically aggressive than Dream Theater or Fates Warning and more theatrical than post-In Absentia Porcupine Tree. Carving out their own little niche, Hemina take us through a wild and varied ride which crucially shows them to be masters of atmosphere and emotional resonance as well as technical chops, which leaves saves them from falling into the trap of producing overproduced and emotionally sterile material which is always a danger in the prog metal field and which they tend to teeter on the brink of a little too often. I wouldn't call it the instant classic others have proclaimed it as, but it's certainly a high-quality debut which has made me excited about prog metal again - and in particular, excited to see what Hemina do next.
Hailing from Australia is Hemina, a five-piece progressive metal act that strikes an impressive balance between classic prog metal, heavy modern influences, and dynamic touches reminiscent of the best progressive music from the seventies'. The band gained some attention for their 2010 EP, As We Know It, but their 2012 full-length, Synthetic, has actually received quite a bit of hype and recognition from the progressive rock and metal communities. And with good reason, I might add. Clocking in at roughly 80 minutes, this ambitious concept album is jam-packed with absolutely killer and surprisingly unique prog metal; Synthetic is the sort of album that fans of the genre will not want to pass up on. This is just a damn good album across the board, and I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a lot more from Hemina in the future.

The majority of the music that's played on Synthetic is what I tend to look for in modern progressive metal - dynamic songwriting, stunning instrumentals, memorable choruses, and killer riffs. Hemina provides the listener with all of these things, but they do so in a way that is entirely their own. Rather than borrowing all of these tricks from established veterans like Dream Theater, Fates Warning, and Ayreon, Hemina puts these key traits in a more unique setting that sets them apart from other progressive metal acts. The end result is an album that sounds familiar and accessible to any prog metal veteran, but still contains enough original twists to keep it from feeling like a re-hash of something already done twenty years ago. Hemina leans towards the more theatrical and dynamic style of progressive metal played by acts like Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, Vanden Plas, and Evergrey, but you should also expect plenty of Dream Theater-influenced virtuosity, spacey sections reminiscent of Pink Floyd, melodic prog metal in the vein of Anubis Gate, and even some influences from modern thrash and power metal. Synthetic is not the kind of album that will sound polarizing to any progressive metal listener, but it packs enough variety to feel fresh and unique.

Of course, none of this would mean anything if Hemina didn't also impress from a compositional standpoint, but the band also excels on this front. For an album that's nearly eighty minutes long, it's a bit surprising that Synthetic is entirely void of any filler tracks. The ten-plus minute epic tracks like "To Conceive A Plan", "And Now To Find a Friend", and "Divine" may steal the show for some listeners, but many of the shorter songs are also masterpieces in their own right. Songs like "With What I See" or "Hunting Is For Women" especially strike me as an exceptional prog metal pieces that veer on the shorter side. In terms of musicianship, Hemina also delivers much more than expected; the band is exceptionally talented across the board, and some of the guitar solos (especially the one in "Divine") are just jaw-dropping. I could see Douglas Skene's vocals being an acquired taste for some, but I personally love his singing style. He sounds a bit like Ray Alder (of Fates Warning and Redemption fame) to these ears, which is definitely not a bad thing in my opinion.

The only minor complaint I have with the album is that the production is less than ideal - the mix feels a bit compressed, and (pardon the pun) the drums also have a 'synthetic' sound to them. A slightly less overdone production style would have impressed me, but this is the sort of flaw that's really easy to overlook in favor of excellent music. Synthetic is a virtually faultless debut album from Hemina; certainly not the kind of album that's easy to follow up. I'll be eagerly awaiting the band's next move, and in the meantime, I'll recommend this stunning debut to anybody who enjoy bands like Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, Redemption, Anubis Gate, Evergrey, Vanden Plas, and Dream Theater. Synthetic is undoubtedly one of the best debut efforts to come out within the last few years.
Time Signature
This hour of ours...

Genre: progressive metal

Who says progressive metal has to always sound like Dream Theater? Certainly not the Australian progressive metal act Hemina who, on their debut album "Synthetic", offer their take on how progressive metal can also sound.

The complexity which is one of the defining features of progressive metal, is there, and the listener will certainly not be missing out on odd time signatures, complex song structures, epic moods, long songs with long instrumental pieces and lots of changes. So, no worries, this is certainly music which appeals just as much to the brain as to the heart.

But Hemina's "Synthetic" differs from many other progressive metal releases in that it is not characterized by hyper-technical playing (granted, their music is so much more more technical than general pop and rock music - just check out many of the guitar solos). Hemina draw extensively on modes of expression and different moods, and is rich in dynamics between heavy and soft passages. Needless to say, this dynamics works rather well.

As with so many other progressive metal bands, the synths are quite prominent in Hemina's music, but instead of relying on the usual keyboard acrobatics, singer and keyboardist Phillip Eltakchi uses the synth to create a tripped out and spacey sound, and his style sounds quite inspired by the progressive rock of the 70s. Indeed, it would not be completely far fetched, if you described the music on "Synthetic" as Genesis playing metal.

The production is obviously not raw, but, unlike on many other progressive metal releases, it is not exactly polished either, and this really fits quite well with the album's overall dark and melancholic atmosphere.

If you like progressive metal but prefer the slightly darker end of this genre, then Hemina's "Synthetic" is an album that is worth looking into. It is epic, atmospheric, symphonic, dynamic and quite impressive.
Metal riffs, spacey effects, symphonic keyboard layers, wrapped around a concept - Hemina!

Hemina are an Australian Prog Metal unit that have recently made an impact with their debut Ep that has now become a full blown 79 minute epic master work in the form of 'Synthetic'. The sprawling concept album focuses on a disembodied angel who is forced to live in the modern world and even beyond into other eternities. The musicianship is akin to the metal melodic style of Dream Theater, Ayreon, Pain of Salvation and the symphonic ambience of Pink Floyd. It is about as good as I have ever heard from an Australian prog band.

It begins with 'This Hour of Ours'; a haunting sound of synths and rain falling heavily. The spacey atmosphere builds with the ethereal vocals of Douglas Skene from Anubis, crystal clear and empassioned. The piano accompanies in the next epic 11 and a half minute track, 'To Conceive a Plan' that suddenly explodes with metal distortion and a heavy tempo. Mitch Coull's lead guitar is scorching with a strong percussion beat by Andrew Craig. Jessica Martin's bass pumps along with well executed lines and the keyboards of Phill Eltakchi are extraordinary.

Together Hemina are a powerful force of prog metal and they delight in lengthy instrumental breaks and lead guitar solos. It is nice to hear Jessica's voice accompanying Skene at times.This track has some symphonic violin sounds and is driven by a rhythmic cadence. There are some loud screams to enhance the atmosphere and at 8:20 the riff chugs along well under Skene's finger blistering solo. The riff that comes in at 9:40 is a fast lead phrase that crunches with admirable dexterity. It is followed by blazing twin lead solos. The song is a grand start to this epic album.

Some keyboard wizardry is heard in the next track, 'The Boy is Dead', similar to the blistering work of Jordan Rudess. The pace settles into a quieter passage temporarily before the next metal attack. Quieter ethereal vocals are heard but it explodes suddenly into relentless riffing.

'For All Wrong Reasons' is a nice change into balladic territory, breaking from the heaviness previously. The harmonies are beautiful with Skene and Jessica's duet; 'I've seen each passing season, the places for my calamity.' As far as a ballad goes this is Hemina at the top of their game. The lead guitar soars with emotion and caps off a highlight of the album. This is segued seamlessly by another 11 minute epic 'And Now to Find a Friend', with a string section and then pounding drums and distorted guitar riffs. The synth solo is dynamic and lifts the atmosphere considerably. The vocals are passionate and there is a soundscape of keys and guitars beneath, reminding me of Queensryche or Symphony X. It takes many directions into metal and symphonic territory before settling into a very pronounced ambience with lead guitar finesse and estranged melancholy vocals.

The next track is 'With What I See', beginning softly with piano, acoustics and strings. The metal riffs take over drowning out the keys. It is a fairly standard metal song for the majority but it ends with an innovative passage of feedback and spacey synths, with waves crashing. This segues into 'Hunting is for Women' that opens with heartbeat drums. There is an odd time sig and very off kilter instrumentation. The vocals follow the melody that are more experimental ending with some weird sounds and a nice synth, but it is not one of my favourite songs on the album.

Next is 'Even In Heaven', and it is back to the metal guitars and keyboard runs. The tempo is slow paced for a while but it builds to a driving fast beat and crunching riff. This was welcome after a lot of slower material. Everything stops as the verses come in; 'life takes you by the helm, myself my soul you dwell, its yearning to see the light of day because of you.' The love song becomes a fast paced riffing head banger, with blazing guitar speed sweeps, and percussive blastbeats. The instrumental break is wonderful with mellotron style keys and an incredible breakneck speedy keyboard solo over heavy drums and guitar. The blitzkrieg lead guitar solos are also frenetic and well executed in this highlight of the album.

'Conduit to the Sky' is a short track, less than three minutes, with creepy keyboards and choral angelic vocals. It is a transition piece leading to 'Haunting Me!', that rips along with metal riffing elegance and darker multi tracked vocals, with lyrics such as; 'death is not the end', 'nothing left to see', and 'is this all I'll be.' The choppy riff leads to a twin lead solo, and an ethereal section with effects and vocal intonations.

'Divine' finishes the album with an outstanding lengthy 13 minute epic. The metal riffing is predominant in the first section, with duel lead solos and a layer of keyboard pads. The vocals are again mixed well into the sound; 'Welcome home, I've been here, the walls are so reminiscent.' Later there is a blistering fret melting lead break that is one of the finest on the album. The keyboard solo is very much like Dream Theater and the song settles into a nice quiet acoustic passage with soft vocals at 7:40. A metal riff joins and another verse, similar to earlier. The vocals are high pitched and well sung, as another lead break cracks the sound. There are some death growls to follow that are unsettling after all the clean vocals. The clean vocals soon return though and the time sig changes into a moderate tempo. Jessica's voice is heard again and then a nice reverb guitar with spacey overtones. Reversed effects add to the strange atmosphere, and the song ends on this dark vibe.

This album is certainly an epic journey with incredible guitar and keyboards, as well as a strong bass and drum rhythm machine. The vocals are appropriate and overall this is an impressive debut from this Australian band. There is enough metal here to satiate the appetite and it is brimming over with symphonic and spacey embellishments. This comes highly recommended to the prog metal fan who does not like to be constantly bombarded with speedy riffs, over produced complexity or death growls. In fact this album has a sprinkling of these but focuses on haunting atmospheres, strong melodies and downright virtuoso arrangements.

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