The progressive death metal genre isn't the biggest around, closer to the smallest one along with Avant-Garde. Of course this is with good reason. The prog death metal genre is a genre that combines many elements that might seem hard to combine.
To bring new border pushing music, with weird time signatures, weird riffing and song writing approach is a challenge not many people are willing to accept. Cause writing stuff like that is one thing, but to write it in such a way that it stays interesting for an audience to listen to, that's another thing.
Anyways, here we have Hieronymus Bosch a Russian band, named after a controversial Dutch painter, who lived from 1450 till 1516. His approach was unusual and incorporating many symbolic elements as Demons, half man half animal and mechanical machines to get his point across, didn't gain him the best name. Many of his works deal with sin and other moral decay, a great fundament for lyrics and songs. Though not very well known this band was already founded in 1993, thus far only two full-length albums have been released, this being there latest one, released in 2005 on CD-Maximum label.
Does Hieronymus Bosch bring anything new to the genre, where fans are often very harsh in their opinion? As border pushing as the genre may be, because it's so small , comparisons are easily drawn and this is never good, unless you're a cover band. It might be because they're from Russia, but there is something about their sound that makes them unique and not the umpteenth progressive band that sound the same with cheesy, way too technical guitar solos and uninspired synth leads. The sound is pretty much straight forward, certainly for a progressive band, no head in the clouds song writing, but pretty much down to earth, which helps in keeping the songs and the album consistent sound wise. But straight forward song writing doesn't get you labelled as progressive, so there must be more. That 'more' element is what makes this a good release.
Sometimes in between the decent song writing you will hear a weird solo, that might seem misplaced or a mix of genres, this comes out of thin air, but fits in to the songs. Here lays the strength of good progressive music; be progressive and surprise the people. On way too many progressive albums you can feel when a climax is coming, but not here.
A few highlights of the album, where they incorporate unusual elements:
Interference (1:27): A spacy interlude, that could just as well be the soundtrack of some sci-fi series.
Third Half (0:00) A weird dissonant intro on guitar.
Third Half (1:53) A emotional piano solo in a death metal song(!?)
These are just a few examples, I won't spoil the fun for you by picking out more samples.
Discover it yourself and be amazed.
Now to end this review: The vocals and lyrics, the vocals are nice and typical, heavy death metal vocals, there are a few clean vocals and they are very light to the ear and flow pretty well. But the lyrics are worth a bit more attention. I have always been curious about their lyrics, butt was never able to find them until now. As I expected there are no gore lyrics or any talk about zombies. The lyrics are dealing with serious, sometimes a bit abstract elements of life. Despite the use of these abstract elements the lyrics are great and he's not relying on difficult words to get his point across. The lyrics are quite worth reading, so if you have any time, please do so.
I will now sum up this review, with a few lyrics.
"First half screams
Brings me to the boil
Storing up the spoils
Second half sings
Rights all the wrongs
And I can hear
These graceful songs"
(Taken from Third Half)
Overview and Final Judgement:
These guys bring us a very consistent release, providing inspiration for musicians and showing that you can be progressive without losing good song writing.
The album has a quite brutal thick sound, but shows very subtle progressive elements really well. This is because the production is marvellous. Each instrument can be picked out very well, pay close attention to the bass in particular, it's great!
If you're tired of all the brutal death metal bands or the predictability of some progressive bands out there. Check this out.
I always hear people saying, progressive metal is boring, this proves the opposite.
I conclude this review with a well deserved:
Thanks for reading :)