While the wider metal scene is much more inclusive than for example the hardcore or the punk scene when it comes to bands from outside the US or the UK, bands from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are still not getting enough attention. That’s a shame, because the region is home to some great bands and Hegemone, it appears, are one of them.
What makes Hegemone a great band? Well, first of all, the album they delivered, but also the fact that they make the music they do coming from Poland, because Poland is a very special country. I think it’s safe to say that it is one of the most conservative countries in all of Europe. 90% of the country’s citizens call themselves believers, and while that shouldn’t mean something bad, most of the time it does. Going anywhere near black or death metal in a country like Poland really takes guts and will probably be met with a lot of opposition.
Bands who emerge from surroundings that are opposed or at least not supporting of their form of art tend to be more extreme, focussed, determined and goal driven. You could summarize it this way: The weirder the main-stream culture, the better the products of its subculture.
In Poznan, Hegemone’s hometown, the band Behemoth was banned from playing only as recently as 2014, because their singer Nergal once tore a Bible up on stage, leading to the band almost being categorized as something like Entartete Kunst (degenerate art in Nazi Germany) and having to face trial after trial. But can you really wonder that a person would act out in that way in a country where belief and church are omni-present? One extreme triggers another. That might be the reason why Poland produces such a number of grim bands, with Hegemone being one of them.
We Disappear features six excellent, prolonged tracks. What they thematize, I can’t really say, because I don’t understand a word of the lyrics. However, the press info says the album depicts “the never-ending process of change in all its terrifying beauty”. We’ll just have to believe that. The second track is titled Fracture, actually, and a fracture is the initial state of any kind of change, form geology to human relationships and physiology. Interestingly, the titles of the first three tracks are listed in Latin script, and the last three in Cyrillic script. Cyrillic isn’t normally used in Poland and this might have been done to point out Poland’s position between the West and the East, between Western and Eastern influences.
All six of the album’s tracks are great pieces of music. There is not one track of which you could say that it is of lesser quality than the rest. The beginning of the fourth track seems to be somewhat out of the album’s concept, but that’s the first track that’s listed in Cyrillic, so maybe the beginning embodies this switch.
Since it doesn’t make sense to single out any track, I’ll just point out bits that I like in each one of them. The first track, Mara, has a fantastic build-up, great guitar riffs, a great drive. The second track, Fracture, features fast, monotonous drumming, but it is held in the background, like the echo of a chain reaction, unstoppable, moving forward, until it levels out, reaches one developmental stage, before the next chain reaction sets in. The beginning of the third track, Raising Barrows, has a folk feel to it, and comes across very cold. There is also a great video to that track, in black and white, showing different landscapes in different seasons, and one faceless person wandering around alone in the woods. The person appears insignificant, fragile, but terrifying at the same time, dehumanized to some degree, because of the facelessness. The end of the fifth track holds a beautiful and unexpected surprise, a cappella female vocals. The sixth track, lasting over 15 minutes, tells a whole story all by itself.
Debemur Morti Productions pride themselves in releasing quality and Hegemone’s second full-length album We Disappear certainly confirms that they do. The blackened post metal Hegemone play, with beautiful, complex, rich, ringing soundscapes and throaty vocals, will appeal to post and black metal fans alike.