Hegemon Album Review

French black metal outfit Hegemon has been around for about 20 years now. Yet they have only released three full-length albums in that period. The long breaks between the albums let Hegemon disappear into obscurity again and again, although their records were always critically acclaimed. It has been seven years again since their last album ‘Contemptus Mundi’. Now the French appear again from the dark shadows of the black metal underground to disturb the world once again with their new album ‘The Hierarch’.

Off we go with the opener ‘Hatred From The Core – Tempus Incognito’. After a short acoustic intro the band falls into chilling riffs and chaotic double-bass action with remarkably guttural screams. This is where hatred comes from. The opener develops over its almost six minutes. It incorporates influences from other genres including some thrash metal-like hook lines in the middle and a few growls that sound more like death metal. However, they never leave the low-fi sound that has become so typical for modern black metal. The slower part towards the end of the song and the incorporation of a choir chills your bones and completes the black atmosphere.

Wow, what a first song. If you are not familiar with Hegemon’s previous work, this is what you can expect. Once again the Frenchmen have released a killer black metal album. All songs on ‘The Hierarch’ show the variety of the opener without having a common structure. The album remains fresh and interesting through the eight songs. Whether it is ‘Rays Of Lie’, the heaviest and fastest track on the album, or ‘Atomos – Seed Of The Quantic Gods’ with its razor-sharp melodies in the mid-part, it is hard to pick a highlight or favourite.

‘The Hierarch’ is a cohesive and very versatile album. The songs blend together and create an album with an overarching atmosphere. Rather than having just eight separate songs the tracks work together, just like a movie can tell a story with more details than the single pictures are able to. The result is a tense atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Hegemon present a more than solid album with ‘The Hierarch’. The eight songs can all convince. There is not one weak track on the album. The dark and chilling atmosphere throughout the record, the playful dance between modern extreme black metal and more punk-like black metal of the early 80s as well as the nihilistic lyrics provide a mix that should attract lots of black metal fans. However, the real success of Hegemon’s ‘The Hierach’ is that the band avoids falling into modern extreme cacophony that spreads so much boredom throughout the efforts of too many young black metal acts. ‘The Hierarch’ is a diversified black metal album that doesn’t lack despair and aggression.

8.5 of 10

Official band website