Review Summary: Better dust off those headphones.1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Legacy is the spiritual successor to the earlier 2006 release by Hypnos 69 - impossibly, they have pulled it off once again. After The Ecletic Measure
, pounded out by these guys in 2006, I didn’t imagine they’d be able to top it, since the album had such an individual balance of quirk and sonic familiarity. When examining the contents, coming up as space and psychedelic rock, the first few themes that come to mind would be very very slow, with no expansion or real point to listen to it unless you took a couple shots of heroin. But several years later, it's a bright spot for this virutally unknown prog band, straight out of the wet and french-fry infested corners of Belgium. This release in itself surprised me - if their last album was a cat on a spring, waiting to pounce - this is a coiled panther ready to bite. Legacy
welcomes the more accessible, heavy-metal and progressive-sound numerous bands had become world renowned for, and is a brilliant reimagining.
Perhaps the most triumphant part in this return is the fact that Legacy
manages to sound different, in it's rising barricade of changing time signatures, jazz structures, and crushing instrumentations. It manages to capture elements of Pink Floyd
's diverse guitar and drums, King Crimson
's use of ascending saxophone, and all in all is a virtual reminiscence of older progressive bands, while managing to bleed in their own aspects and make a perfect picture in focus, giving it its own old-new flavor. It sets goals and ambitions, and meets them. All in all another day at the office for Hypnos 69.
Which perhaps renders a little sad that this album is more unknown than it needs to be - the biggest pieces of gold seem to be forgotten amongst the others. Legacy
is not a short affair. This is not a release that comes and goes: it's very long. Right from the start, the opener (Requiem
) is 17 minutes long, so it's sure that it's going to be a long journey. The Great Work
, the second glaring highlight, is about 18 minutes long alone, so it's a long affair. Not that you'd want it to end; the whole album is well done.
Like previously said, Legacy is full of wonderful structures and compositions. 'The Great Work'
is full of underscoring guitars and long keys, coupled with a long expansion in instruments, all blending together brilliantly. And all the little details in the album are the most important: The Empty Hourglass
featuring a King Crimson-esque saxophone, oppressively low key and simultaneously reaching very high notes (via Queens of the Stone Age or 21st Century Schizoid Man), and the reverb guitar that mixes in; the shorter, more melodic "My Journey To The Stars"
, with Steve Houtmayer's excellent vocal performance; the more upbeat, and extravagant "Jerusalem"
, which gradually remains at its own cacophony and is more joyous to listen to. But it's the opener, "Requiem"
steals the show - it's the shining highlight of compositions on the album, brilliantly blending the heavier side of the album and the lusher, more complex side altogether in a great storm of music.
After everything, though, there are a few flaws to an otherwise perfect piece of art. “The Sad Destiny We Lament”, depsite the beautiful acoustic-led, is a surprisingly boring calm after/before the storm, the rest of the instruments just coming in unceremoniously. It would have remained fine on its own; The Empty Hourglass is full of rhythm and meshes well with the rest of the atmosphere, but for its 10 minutes length, some of it feels underwhelming in terms of creative scope - the rest of the band tries too hard to follow the six-string and the lofty and ringing alto saxophone.
I don’t know if Hypnos 69 are going to put out another full-length, and if they do, I don’t know what form it will take, but to date, Legacy is unquestionably the band’s peak. Their melodic range is humbling, their will to explore ceaseless and their propensity for balance makes them one of the most emotionally engaging acts in the rock underground today. The work that comprises this record is, when properly approached, transcendent, and proves only more so with repeated interaction. Whatever you want to hear in it, you will hear, as though the Houtmeyerses, Marx and Vanlaer were playing in tongues, and to say it’s one of the year’s best albums is to completely sell it short. This is a work that’s going to take more than a year to fully appreciate, and as someone who’s only begun to engage it, I look forward to experiencing how it grows over time, completely confident that it will as only the best and most classic records can.