Yet another stunning unsigned act that will probably go unsigned for some unknown reason…
Despite the free music and hordes of admiring groupies whenever I go out in public, one of the few benefits of being an internet hack is getting to discover amazing underground bands that labels choose to ignore; The Living Fields, The Pax Cecilia, The Fifth Sun, In Vain, Sword Toward Self, etc - all stunning bands delivering material better than about 85% of most label released material.
Enter New York’s Hung, the brain child of one Lyris Hung, an electric violin virtuoso and apparent fan of technical, progressive death metal. Ms. Hung (yes, Ms.) has surrounded herself with a group of competent musicians and an Allan Douches/Eric Rachael recoding effort, Hung’s second album is a stellar foray into progressive death metal with a classical twist.
The twist is, that rather than simply use Ms. Hung’s violin, adding a clichéd, piecemeal element of the music, it’s used almost like a second guitar, providing actual riffs and solos throughout every moment of every song, not just random injections or interludes. The nearest comparison I can think of, is Ebony Tear’s Tortura Insomniae or Yo Yo Ma covering Cynic and Death. More surprising is that it actually works. The five developed tracks would actually have been solid progressive death metal offerings without the violin as all four of the other players are solid musicians in their own right, with vocalist Dmitry Kostitsyn providing ample rasps and deep growls (though his clean crowns are a bit off) and guitarist Evil Jon laying down plenty of complex yet melodic and proficient riffs and lick.
And then there is Ms. Hung. It’s actually fairly difficult to express how her electronic violin melds with the other more traditional metal instruments, but it does. Like I stated, the violin is not used as some goth/doom tangent but is integral to every riff and every part of each song, trading off with Evil Jon or simply providing its own lick of stirring, classical moments. It shouldn’t work, but it does as Ms. Hung helps provide galloping riffage in tracks like “Maria” or trades off with more intricate licks like on “Wishing Scar” and essentially delivers some truly surprisingly metal moments in all five tracks. I especially like the nine minute “Sediment of War”, where the violin initially plays a more traditional, delicate role before becoming a truly, stunning epic closer.
At About 35 minutes, this nicely packaged digipack is absolutely worth the $10 asking price [ed. for the hard copy]. In a genre that seems to rely on either blunt force trauma or mind numbing complexity, it's refreshing to hear some death metal that’s actually doing something challenging and different.