Hyloxalus – Make Me The Heart Of The Black Hole
Hyloxalus is something heavy music fans have been familiar with for decades; the Canadian Power Trio. One of the key differences is the vocals. The layers of Nina are something out of an Epic Power Symphonic Metal lover’s dream. Her tones are stunning and the way the layers are built creates a soundscape that rivals anything you’ve heard to date. Mike takes on a lot of roles, playing everything except the drums. Danial takes on that task and the three of them show they are all very capable of performing their parts with precision and technicality. This is a record to be listened to on repeat, otherwise, you will not catch all the little things written in that make this a standout album. It is theatrical, epic, and worth studying in depth.
- Nina Laderoute – Vocals
- Mike Bell – Guitar/Bass/Synth Programming/Lead Songwriter
- Danial Devost – Drums
January 26, 2024
- He Dies in the Swamp
- Dream Chasm
- Beyond the Soil
- Undead in Ward 6
- Sailors Underneath the Waves
- Severed from the Reborn Sun
So many albums these days open with some kind of intro, even if it is just a five-second fade-in to the first track. This album begins with an opening salvo of sound, a barrage of notes from every single direction. Layers of vocalizations synchronize with all the instruments to overwhelm the mind from the very first note. Rapid fire drumming under the churning guitars and thundering bass give rise to a maelstrom of emotion. Nina’s voice is fused with itself, layered over and over, harmonizing within the riff and creating a choir effect.
The compositions on this album are huge. The layers of instrumentation, coupled with the vocal gymnastics fill the entire soundscape whether running at full speed or creeping along stealthily. “Dream Chasm” is, by comparison, almost sludgy. The tempo is low and slow, trudging along with a deliberate pace meant to haunt your sleep. The drumming is melodic and fits the niche of the rhythm, giving the track a feeling of completeness. The keys and guitars, including bass, are perfectly accentuated by the slightly asynchronous phrasing of the percussion.
“Beyond The Soil” would be more of a mid-tempo offering as far as this album is concerned. It’s not the slowest, nor is it anywhere near top speed for Hyloxalus. The sheer variety of timings, tunings, and tempos used show a confidence that not many bands possess. All of these differences in speed and tone are held together by the concept of the lyrics and the consistent Classical vocal performance from Nina. There is a darkness within the words, including the fight for eternal life to escape a terminal illness in “Undead In Ward 6.”
Danial does what great drummers do on this disc. He lays a solid foundation that supports the rest of the instrumentation and the voice. Mike Bell does the rest. The guitars, bass, and synth programming are him. They weave an epic sound made up of a fusion of Power and Symphonic Metal with bits of Melodic, Progressive, and Neo-Classical Metal mixed in to increase the alloy’s strength. Combined, all of these elements, run through a forge and hammered into an Epic Metal weapon, are lovingly crafted with exquisite attention to detail.
“Sailors Underneath The Waves” opens with a slow, gentle guitar piece, flashes of bass and synth, a few cymbal crashes, and the layered voices before surging with the same phrasing, maintaining continuity across the different styles of music. The album wraps much the same way it began with “Splitter” launching an all-out assault from the first note. Fast-paced and hard-driving, the vocals soar over the soundscape. This song brings the record full circle and closes the loop expertly.
Hyloxalus puts everything on the table, betting you will love what they have to offer, and they are not wrong. I love this album and will definitely be putting it into my frequently played category. The album is vast, yet the detailed minutiae make it feel intimate and accessible. It’s like they have written and recorded an album about the limitless expanse of space, but have placed the focus on a single spot and provided me with a road map to that exact spot. In other words, they Make Me The Heart Of The Black Hole.
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 10
Overall – 10.00