Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hguols - Celestial Powers Intervened To True Supremacy (2010)

I love it when artists grow.  Some people would prefer that a band like Metallica would record "Master of Puppets" ten times over and never change.  Those people can listen to "Master of Puppets" over and over again, but for me and the rest of the world, we want progression and evolution in our music.  Hguols has answered the call with their 2nd release of "MIDI Metal" and has proved that not only was that concept not a "one trick pony", but that it's possible it's far more expansive and had more possibilities than some may have considered.  Listeners will be rewarded for growing along with this project, as this sophomore release has more to offer than the debut.

Where "Epitome" was a tad one-sided, content to dwell mostly in the space of tremolo picking with the occasional harpsichord interlude and choral segue, "Celestial Powers Intervened To True Supremacy" has much more to offer, with greater range, more musical expression, more textures and just better overall composition.  Not only that, but the MIDI instrument set is stronger here, so during the slower parts the guitars sounds more realistic, the choral "vocal" sections are beefier and sound better, the harpsichord sounds better this time around, and all the little instrumental flourishes are just more full and rewarding.  In addition, the songs are stronger here, building much more interest from song to song and far more variety overall.  I should also make mention of the symphonic elements - they're more pronounced here, and for good reason - they sound better than before due to the improved "instrument" set.  As a result, there's more bombast, and more pomp and circumstance than on the previous release.

The obvious thing missing here is the traditional black metal vocals to go over this expansive palette of material, but of course, this is an instrumental project.  As such, the listening experiencing is still a tiny bit limited, as the amount of expression possible in this art form sans vocals is limiting.  However, Hguols does a good job of filling that void as much as possible.  Not having vocals doesn't feel as limiting here as it does in some other projects, primarily because the music is varied enough to keep interest all the way through the album.  Though I'd still like to hear this material with a vocal track, I think this CD does a great job of minimizing the fact that there are no vocals.

All in all, this is a step up from the debut and a tour de force of instrumental music.  I'd challenge anyone's preconceptions about instrumental music, and non-traditional metal music to give this CD a try.  Not only does it defy the boundaries of what is known as "metal" music, but it also shows what is truly possible with composition and innovation in this art form.  I'd wager that future projects Tom takes on will continue to expand the "MIDI Metal" art form and perhaps be the spark that triggers a greater flame of musical creativity within technology-based music.  Highly recommended.


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