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Sunday, February 07, 2010

CD Review: Hypno5e - Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre

Hypno5e - Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre
2007 Overcome Distribution
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Yes, this album has been officially released for quite some time, however, French expressionistic metallers Hypno5e are just now generating a buzz as headliners of the Metal as Art Tour currently flogging the American underground. Better late than never, so the idiom goes.

So many sectors of the world are fortifying their metal and alt scenes with attention-grabbing groups who deserve exposure on a global level. France may not possess a legion of metal acts the world has been privy to--yet--however, those who've broken out internationally have really turned heads of the more serious clan of writers and fans who seek depth and integrity in metal's craft.

Gojira has really benefitted from mass exposure, particularly gaining a coveted opening slot with Metallica last year. There's a good reason for that, too; the environmentally-conscious champions of math metal are one of the finest groups of this period. Then you have Hacride, another tech-metal band with major potential. Even though most of the members of Phazm departed, this is one of the genre's bigger hopefuls as well, assuming Pierrick Valence can get those 7 strings vibrating once again with some more antebellum death and roll...

Montpellier's Hypno5e have been around since 2003 and though they're still working the dog ears off of their first official release Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre, one listen divulges the reason why. It's not hard to figure out Hypno5e's songwriting schism because they regurgitate it on each composition. Nevertheless, this is a complex album to get one's head around the first couple listens. Hypno5e embraces the quixotic and the ugly, presenting flashcards of extreme emotions from opposite sides of the spectrum. Luxurious and temporal, bombastic and hellish, Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre employs distorted mind rape with nervy dice rolling.

Okay, so you might say everyone from Neuroris to Isis to The Ocean operate in a similar fashion. What gives Hypno5e a differentiating edge? For one thing, a rawer, chunkier attack to their metal sections, for which you largely have to sit on edge in earnest for as Emmanuel Jessa and his partners force you to drift with closed eyes upon their spiraling lofts as set-ups for Hypno5e's screechy bombs of tonal destruction.

Hypno5e's arrangements may vary with each song, but the intent is the same all the way through Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre. Provide clouds of introspective quietude before dumping their listeners off in a rapid plunge to the gates of Hell. At times, Hypno5e incorporates angelic siren chants from Ilene Grange on the sentient "Maintained Relevance of Destruction, Part II." Grange absorbs the listeners into a weepy trance of empathetic sorrow and she's frankly beautiful in the context you know Hypno5e is going to answer her doom-calling furrow with a booming retort. In fact, set behind "Maintained Relevance of Destruction, Part I," the couplet is Hypno5e's finest songwriting on the album.

Not to say the remainder of Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre isn't compelling, but the "Maintained" duo offers the most confident congruence Hypno5e were capable of when they recorded this album back in 2007. "Daybreak at Slaughter House" and "Scarlet Fever" are also quite strong, but as Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre continues its pitter-pattering as preludes or intercessions to Hypno5e's crushing mania, the scheme betrays the group eventually.

Incorporating prolonged sample sequences (including Norman Bates' "wouldn't harm a fly" closing spiel from Psycho on "Naked Lunch I") and isolated fly buzzes from Jessua and Jeremie Lautier ("Scarlet Fever" being an example), they extend Hypno5e's songs into formulative exercises in noise abstractism. In some ways, Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre will remind of Slipknot when they're trying their damnedest to be legit artistes. Once "Scarlet Fever" breaks out of its cerebrum-swirled setups, the hard-smacking crunchiness is rhythmic and cumbersome. The heavy sections of "Scarlet Fever" are divine, particularly with Jessua's piano sprinkles in the song's middle stanza, which fakes the listener out with pseudo finale.

In some ways, one wants to spin the hand of impatience at Hypno5e with a request to get to the meat, not to disrupt the indulgent mood scapes they're trying to create with Des Deux L'Une Est L'Autre. Nobody's asking them to be direct and carefree like the cabaret-bent Paris Combo or groovy hipster chic like electro-explorers Air, but Hypno5e are well onto something creatively but could use just a hair or two extra focus. The agitated hammers of "Tutuguri" reveal a band who can lift cement blocks from their foundations with pinpointed aggression, yet the immediate payoff is like instant gratification the listener wonders if further fulfillment awaits. Fortunately it certainly comes with Botch-like ear-gouging exactitude (Thibault Lamy's ratchety percussion is especially massive), and cheers to Hypno5e for creating such suspense. In a way, this becomes Hyno5e's in-joke.

However, a little more discipline in knowing when to cut off their trancy theatrics and overdone voiceovers in portions of the album and employing more blunt punctuality like they do with the "Maintained Relevance of Destruction" pairing, and Hypno5e won't just a band to be respected; by attrition they'll have to be feared.

Rating: ***1/2


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