‘Herbs For The Alter’
Released: 24 October 2014
Imagine that a wildebeest has been to a party with some guys from work, sank a few Southern Comforts WAY too fast and before long was smashing the place up, shouting: “You’re all assholes anyway!” Hypnochron is the sound of that wildebeest’s hangover. ‘Herbs For The Alter’ is a painful mix of confusion, paranoia, violence and a deep, addled sense of satisfaction.
‘Smoke Weed, Hail Satan!’ is the Chicago band’s motto, and this is definitely a wavelength album – in that you have to be in the right ‘frame of mind’ to get the most from it. The riffs are lumbering monsters, sometimes drawing on classic or even thrash metal influences, but always slow and soothing. So anaesthetising are they, in fact, that the songs sometimes don’t quite materialise at all and the hooks drift by, inches out of reach.
Instrumental music can be enthralling – as Hypnochron’s often is – with the lack of a focal (vocal) personality a means to fuller immersion in the thick guitar tones and the interplay between the band members, leaving the music more open to the listener’s own interpretation. On ‘Herbs For The Alter’, the guitars create a blissful barrage of acidic stoner doom, played with an almost sleepy demeanour. Hypnochron would perhaps benefit from tightening up a little, but even though they are as loose as a technicolor goose, there is no doubting their commitment to the vibe.
Initially it seems that the band might be over-reliant on samples from spooky movies (an affliction that does the genre no justice), but the samples become less frequent as the album progresses. And while not particularly fond of the habit of plundering other people’s creative works, if anyone knows where the quote “I’m still sore from what the devil did to me…” on the track ‘Submit’ derives from, please shout. Elsewhere, the samples are less light-hearted, touching upon drug addiction and governmental manipulation.
There is plenty of variety on offer throughout ‘Herbs For The Alter’. The two-minute ‘Snort’ is a comically whirling blast of chaos metal, while songs such as ‘Rise From Below’ and ‘Fall Of The Sun’ are solid blocks of immense, hypnotising doom. And while the production is a touch hit-and-miss, sometimes forcing the drums too far towards the front of the mix, Hypnochron deliver around 50 minutes of music that may alter your perspective on life.