To start off my very first review on my blog, I felt I had to stray away from the norm. I didn’t want to review my personal favorite album first, or review an artist that everyone has heard of and has listened to lately. I’m trying to make this blog unique people! I hope for my blog to give equal opportunity to all rock bands out there, old or new, popular or not. That’s why I am starting my first review on a little unknown (at least in the United States) band from Australia called Hibernal.
For those of you who don’t know, I believe only two good things have come out of Australia: Crocodile Dundee, and rock bands. From bands like Karnivool and Closure in Moscow, to bands like AC/DC and Wolfmother, Australia is packed with bands that grab my attention. One of those bands is Hibernal.
Hibernal is solo project fronted by Mark Healy, who performs all instruments on the album. I can only describe their sound as progressive rock, meets post rock, meets space rock, meets instrumental rock, with some effects to throw into the mix. I couldn’t tell you my favorite song off the album, as I treat it more like one piece instead of twelve songs. Now, what makes Hibernal different than any other band? Instead of typical lyrics, Hibernal uses spoken word. I find this so fascinating because I have yet to come across another high quality band that uses spoken word so effectively (Side note: If you can think of one, please comment below and I’ll take a listen). This is the first band I’ve heard to achieve this feat. To make this band even more unique, they concentrate their lyrics in the form of a story, like a soundtrack to a movie. The listener is constantly told a story that flows from song to song.
Both albums “The Machine” and their newest album “Replacements” follow this model, using a few characters to tell a cinematic adventure, with great heavy riffs to lay scenes of tension and anger, while soothing the audience with gentle melodies during scenes of discovery and self-reflection. The musicianship is simple than some other bands I listen to, but have just as great of an impact through the use of soundtrack and other digital effects. Both albums can be classified as a sci-fi adventure, where we take a look at a not-so distant future. The first time I listened to them, I couldn’t help closing my eyes and letting my imagination run wild as they take me on a journey. I love the use of guitar and sound effects to help portray the mood, just as a soundtrack to a movie. It adds another element to what would sound like a story on tape without it.
The greatest thing about their music? The stories are really interesting! As an advocate for concept albums, I have heard many statements made against the use of a concept in music. A common cliché for concept albums are that they involve windy, over-told stories that make little to no sense in the end. Not Hibernal. Their stories are simple, yet complete. Imagination is needed to fill the gaps, but they guide you not only through word, but through song. Their newest album “Replacements” can be summed up on their Bandcamp page:
“Replacements opens a window into the future of mankind’s technology where our mastery of robotics creates endless possibilities, both great and terrible. It asks the question – is everything replaceable?” (source)
For those who are not interested in following a story, and would instead like an instrumental piece, Hibernal offers an option for “Replacements” without the spoken word, to give the listener a different experience.
I urge anyone who is a lover of science fiction, prog rock, movie soundtracks, or are suckers for concept albums like myself to take a listen to Hibernal’s “Replacements.”
Please enjoy a complimentary listen of “Replacements” from Bandcamp below!