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Hypnochron : Herbs For The Alter

It needs refinement and tightening-up, but Hypnochron's debut does show some promise.

The rather limited description for Hypnochron's 'Herbs for the Alter' states, in its entirety 'Our first full length release. Smoke weed, Hail Satan!' Whilst not the most original sentiment, it is certainly one I can get behind. It probably also gives an inkling to what is in store... yes, this is Stoner Doom! Whilst this may be billed as a full length release, for the purposes of this review I am treating it as a demo, as I feel this allows me to be more positive about it despite several shortcomings.

So, why do I say this is a demo? Well, firstly the recording quality of the record is pretty lo-fi, and rather inconsistent with the mix on some songs being much clearer than on others. The timing is a little suspect in places, as is the tuning, most obviously on the clean guitars. Overall this gives the impression that the record was recorded very quickly (possibly live?) on a limited budget. Additionally, it really feels like Hypnochron have recorded and released their whole set, rather than whittling it down to the better songs, as the quality varies throughout.

However, there are better songs, and it is on these where the signs of potential begin to show. On 'Nebula', probably the tightest song, the band locks into a real groove with some excellent Kyuss or indeed Nebula-esque riffing (Could the song be named after the band?), which gives way to some fantastic spaced out Stoner leads. ‘Empowerment’ ends with a cracking Slayer-style Thrash metal riff which is something I would like to hear more of in the genre. 'Lurid Spirals' meanders nicely with a good feel for dynamic morphing (in other words, it goes from loud to quiet and back again without sounding unnatural). ‘Snort’ starts off sounding almost Darkthrone-like, although I think that with this production style any riff above 130bpm is going to sound this way! The band venture into full blown Sleep territory several times with 'Pigs on the Hunt' and 'Fall of the Sun' being particularly well executed examples.

It should be noted that Hypnochron are entirely instrumental, instead opting for spoken word samples from the usual sort of b-movie sources. It is all very Bongzilla, with references to Satan, weed and pussy throughout. It seems that some consider this to be a little old hat (I have seen such sentiments expressed on the forums of this very site) but I have always been a fan. It is increasingly difficult to pull off as most of the good samples have been used already, but there is nothing on 'Herbs for the Alter' that sounds familiar to my ears. Hopefully Hypnochron will fall far enough under the radar to not have legal issues and have to reissue the record with the samples removed à la Electric Wizard's 'Come My Fanatics'!

As you have probably gathered from the review so far, I do think there are areas for improvement. However, if I may take an unusual approach, I shall start by admitting that the first record I ever put out (that people may hear without dying anyway) could have exactly the same criticisms against it. It was recorded very poorly, played terribly (much worse than 'Herbs for the Alter', which is just a little sloppy in places), and at least half the tracks should have been left off entirely. I still release records as the same band as then, and they are (I hope) drastically improved. For me, the secret is to never be satisfied with anything you have done. If Hypnochron can focus on keeping the pros and phase out the cons, they will be on to a winner.

Hypnochron seem to have several live shows coming up, and I think this is the key. Keep playing constantly, writing and refining new material and generally honing the sound and tight, focused, heavy records will follow. Hell, if we weren’t continents apart I would love to produce a Hypnochron record. There is plenty of promise here, and given time I think much better things will come of it. If you are in the Chicago, Illinois area, be sure to check them out.

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
1. Tree
2. Submit
3. Nebula
4. Subversion
5. Empowerment
6. Come Fourth
7. Lurid Spirals
8. Snort
9. Pigs on the Hunt
10. Burning Winds
11. Rise from Below
12. Fall of the Sun

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Hypnochron bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-02-19 by Kris Clayton
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