Now let me be upfront, I’ve never been a major prog metal band fan. The primary reason is because I enjoy simplicity, and prog metal is almost anything but. I’ve also felt that prog metal bands do not inject a dose of real emotion in their music, something that I feel is necessary. And I’m not referring to ballads here, I mean as a whole (and yes, I’ve been scolded by progs for saying this in the past and the first thing they do is link to some ballad by Dream Theater, lol). Combine that with their use of too much syncopation, which throws off a song that has established a great groove, and you’ve lost me. The high levels of technicality I have no issues with, quite the contrary, that’s probably the most appealing aspect of prog metal for me, and if I listen it’s because of that. That said, let me introduce you to a band that does NOT do what I feel prog metal bands do wrong.
Hephystus is a progressive metal band from North Carolina consisting of the following members:
Brandon Miller- Lead Vox/Guitar
Troy Surratt- Drums
Matt Halberg- Guitar/Vox
Aaron Yow – Bass/Vox
I’m a bit hesitant to call them progressive metal, though from a technical standpoint they most definitely are. Why the hesitation? Because they do what I don’t expect from a prog metal band, they write with alot of passion and emotion and it shines through. But that’s just part of it, the other is that whereas so many prog metal bands call themselves metal but would be closer described as quasi-metal or a rock/metal hybrid, these guys have a TRULY heavy sound. I have absolutely no hesitation calling these guys a heavy metal band, because that’s precisely what they are.
Their sonic components compliment each other very well, with a judicious use of keyboards here and there, but nothing overboard. The music is primarily the 3 instruments with vocals. As a prog metal band they represent the expected high level of musicianship very well. These guys are players. Not a single instrument is lacking in musicianship, and the vocals are superb.
The vocals are soaring when they need to be, solemn when necessary, and staccato when called for. They are not high pitched, but can be, but it’s mostly, if I would have to guess (and I’m majorly wanting in my music theory/verbage here), a counter-tenor or tenor vocal range, but the dude can push it easily. He even does a great cookie growl in one of their songs, Burning Bridges. Take note cookie monster metal vocalists, this is how it should be done.
The guitar solos are emotional, which is an absolute must for me. I don’t care if it’s a two note pentatonic, it CAN be full of emotion if done right. And here, solos are done right, with a mix of neoclassical shred and tasty jazzy/bluesy fills (with some killer wah at times), he even uses those exotic scales/licks that Marty Friedman used so well. Great work. The rhythm playing, is great too. Normally this suffers with prog players that are so focused on leads that they let the bread and butter of guitar playing suffer – rhythm chops. Thankfully, that’s not the case here.
The drums and bass are surprisingly FUCKING POWERFUL! Pure metal! They combine to really push the songs forward in groove and force. These guys are serious players, and you really have to listen to their stuff, its both simple and involved, lacking nothing in tightness. Heavy fucking grooves, HEAVY! Love it!
The songwriting it strong as well, and not so overly complex as to lose the feel of the song. I could go on forever but I’ll stop here to save it for my review of their last release, Fragmenting Shadows.
As a side note, they have a side project that fucking kills! Southern metal at its finest – Convicted Fate. I review their song here.
If you’re interested in hearing their stuff, you can find it at the links below.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Hephystus
Buy their stuff here: http://hephystus.bigcartel.com/