Spain isn’t the usual destination you’d turn to for a black metal band as this outfit has been around for a decade and this is the bands fifth album though I’m unfamiliar with their back catalogue at this juncture.
As with the majority of melodic black metal releases it begins with an intro and this is no different, beginning with a cinematic style with narrated growled words and backing music “Rivers Of Flesh” sets the scene well for the album. The track launches on cue with a cruising double bass barrage and scathing vocal assault and melodic riff as you’re thrust back to the mid-90s during the melodic black metal explosion. The track is catchy, easy on the ear flowing smoothly with cohesive tempo shifts that eventually dip into a semi acoustic piece that works to add a good textural component. Some aspects of this album are laboured and could have been made pithier like the opening sequence to “Dark Sides In Heaven” which has a great riff when it eventually gets there. I did like “A Long Path” which doesn’t start like black metal at all, possessing a chaotic opening structure the riff has a tech approach that floods into the black metal semblance. Parts of the song reminded me of avant-garde blackened artists Ancient with tranquil and experimental pieces inserted.
What this band does extremely well is capture mood as “Mortal Remains” starts with a fairly tried and tested riff before delving into a far gloomier riff. The riff break insertion signals the speed increase as the vocal variation adds some theatrics to the track. Occasionally the changes in tempo are a little clumsy lacking cohesion, which is a minor point but in today’s finicky market they matter, but they do add adroit atmosphere. There is a doom layering to “Nowhere Lights” with some fine harmony guitar work that wouldn’t be remiss on an old Katatonia album before the track surges into black metal territory. The song has a quirky riff before again utilising the preferred mood change by plummeting the song into a slower mournful melody. It is those gloomier elements I prefer personally as they add such drama and emotion and the lead guitar work is sublime.
“The Falling Madness” has an alluring acoustic like beginning before snaring you with its ferocious riff. Strangely the track veers into a death metal riffing structure which actually works adding weightiness to the song before retreating back to blackened fury. Closing the release is “Temple Of Doom” an epic track with burgeoning theatrics starting with spoken vocals and drum fill and a languidly played guitar riff. The songs main riff is doom like, with deep vocals straddling the track before the riff change. The song isn’t black metal initially, more akin to doom death as the vocals tortured annunciation dissolve to leave an eerie guitar hook. The abrupt and malevolent detonation into black metal is impulsive jutting against the rest of the song before returning to how the song began. I’m not entirely convinced the song worked in its structure and fluidity but I could hear the intent.
Critically Hyban Draco don’t do anything that you haven’t heard in black metal 20 plus years ago and if all you want to hear is albums from 20 years ago then why are reading reviews on this site? The Spaniards have captured the spirit and mood for what they as a band want to achieve and have delivered a melodic black metal album that has excellent musicianship, fluid song writing and a plethora of ideas and for those reasons this is worth tracking down and giving a listen to and paying for.
(8/10 Martin Harris)