Review Summary: Shores of the Abstract Line is a sprawling behemoth of an album that requires attention and multiple listens to truly appreciate, but it is worth the effort.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hypno5e’s previous release, Acid Mist Tomorrow
, didn’t make quite the impact that it could have. Despite some really cool songs, the album required some serious commitment from the listener. Between the bass-driven mellow sections and Djent-filled heavier parts was an album prone to meandering ambience and frequent all-French monologues. Additionally, Acid Mist Tomorrow
didn’t really concern itself with things like instant melodies or hooky vocals; it expected you to listen multiple times until it all finally clicked. The problem was there were simply too many dead sections to get through, and it made initial listens slightly unappealing. The end result was an album that probably never received the repetition required to make an impact. Shores of the Abstract Line
is also going to require multiple listens, but the difference is the repetition is going to be enjoyable.
Instead of long sections of aimless ambience, the band’s quieter moments are now filled with the kind melodic qualities that modern-day Cynic uses in abundance. They’re full of clean guitar melodies, synth undercurrents and emotive layered vocals. Every song makes use of this sound, but ‘V. Central Shore – Tio’ makes the mellow melodicism its central theme, and is easily able to convey the emotion despite being entirely in Spanish. It also makes use of spoken word samples (or monologues), but they actually help the song instead of hindering it. In general, Hypno5e have throttled back on the frequent monologues that plagued the previous release, and only really use them when it helps to move the music forward. The improved quieter moments are the single biggest reason Shores of the Abstract Line
succeeds while Acid Mist Tomorrow
stumbled, and it’s the reason this album will probably get the repeated listens it deserves.
Hypno5e didn’t just focus on the mellow sections, though; they also expanded on the heavy parts of their music. In the past, it sometimes felt like the band relied too heavily on Djent to push the heavy sections, but not anymore. While the rhythmic wall of guitars is still alive and well on Shores of the Abstract Line
, they’re now integrated with a melodic edge and delivered in more interesting progressive arrangements. So, instead of an album full of heavy parts that all basically sound the same, each song goes through movements that can include rhythmic Djent, angular progressive riffing, high-tempo outbursts and melodic ambience. This, of course, is most prevalent on the three longest tracks that range from 10-15 minutes in length, but just about every song goes through at least a few transitions before concluding.
Like its predecessors, Shores of the Abstract Line
is a sprawling behemoth of an album that requires attention and multiple listens to truly appreciate. Unlike its predecessors, though, the work is enjoyable and never feels tedious. The mellow sections that often derailed songs on the previous releases have taken on a more focused direction thanks to less spoken word parts combined with stronger melodies from both the instruments and the vocals. The heavier sections, too, have improved immensely thanks to a wider variety of influences and tempos. Shores of the Abstract Line
finally delivers on the potential previous Hypno5e albums only hinted at. The mellow sections are poignant and compelling while the heavier sections pummel the listener with more nuances than ever before.