Black metal is not all Scandinavia has to offer the realm of metal. The hand of doom has reached over the umbral plain to wave its ominous, riff-filled aura over the northern reaches of Europe. Although split up, Reverend Bizarre have a following that commands a prominent place amongst doom metal from Finland, and internationally. Roaring out of the void, Sweden’s Monolord has achieved global acclaim over the past decade. Bearing this all in mind, it should come as no surprise that Norway also has a prominent pocket devoted to the Iommic path. Consisting of Markus Støle and Ole Rokseth, Hymn has been at the Norwegian forefront of the subgenre’s regional growth since the fledgling moments of the last decade.
Given Støle and Rokseth’s tenure in the Northern European doom scene, Hymn’s forthcoming release, Breach Us, is far from the duo’s first time around the sonic sun. Their 2017 release Perish, along with a handful of demo/EP material, firmly established the group as a regional powerhouse. Utilising spiritual/otherworldly elements, long-form composition techniques, and intense sonic landscapes, their output parallels the likes of YOB, Sunn O))), Conan, Boris, and Slabdragger. Hymn’s previous release included tasteful reprieves from the powerful walls of sound that gave a feeling of a wave undulating between relaxed introspection and heavy sonic transgression. With Breach Us, Støle and Rokseth provide an utterly pulverising ride from start to finish. There are indeed respites in the sheer breadth of volume here and there, but unlike Perish the menacing aura that saturates the album hardly abates.
The eponymous first track roars forth like a bizarre, interdimensional Lovecraftian being tearing its way into our existence. The gut-punching, primordial power is dispersed with unrelenting vigour by Hymn throughout the rest of the album. This is easily evidenced by the torrid opening to ‘Exit Through Fire’. Although Breach Us comprises four tracks, in somewhat typical modern doom fashion there are none under six minutes in length. ‘Can I Carry You’, the monstrous final track, clocks in at 14:34 and does something that harkens back to an aspect that pops up in many of HP Lovecraft’s works – a glimmer of hopeful, yet harsh, reality in the face of otherworldly immensity. Hymn takes up the occult and twisted bow of Erich Zann to quell the beast that lurks on the balcony overlooking the great beyond, waiting for a moment to breach the gates into our world.
Breach Us is out via Fysisk Format on August 28 and can be purchased here.
Words: Garrett A. Tanner