Nordic doom duo Hymn smear own blackened mark on sludgy, pounding debut record ‘Perish’

hymnIt’s easy to think of Norway’s metal and have your mind immediately go to black metal, as that country practically created the modern world of that sub-genre, with the giants still contributing vital content to the scene. But that’s not all the Nordic folk are good for, as proved by their contributions to death metal and plenty of other forms of extreme music, so it would be foolish to fit the land’s metallic punishment into a single box.

Quick evidence of that comes from doom duo Hymn and their destructive first full-length “Perish,” which is being released by the always eclectic Svart Records. The band—guitarist/vocalist Ole Rokseth, drummer Markus Stole—generate enough sound and power to comprise a full band, on these crushing six tracks. Spread over about 50 minutes, the two Hymn members (who also are a part of somewhat like-minded band Tombstones) unleash a devastating assault, one that situated itself mostly in corrosive doom and scraping vocals that sound authoritative and right in your face. Having only been a band about four years now, they have a stranglehold on their sound, one that’s gotten more raucous and defined since their self-titled 2014 EP.

hymn-coverThe record starts with “Ritual,” an introductory-style track that bleeds into the picture, locked in cosmic orbit before it bursts and produces “Rise,” a 12:19 crusher that swings with heavy doom riffs and brings howls that sound like if Tom Araya went even darker. The track plods and menaces, slowly doing its damage, but then it unexpectedly speeds up, taking your flesh with it. Alas, it’s only for a spell, as we’re back to muddy punishment, jarring yells, and an assault that ends abruptly. “Serpent” follows, with guitars trudging through the flames and furious vocals adding extra insult. Ominous tones pull a thick shadow over the song, while the vocals kick up intensity, a hellish vortex appears, and everything is sent into volcanic ash.

“Hollow” has thick riffs bleeding, carving away, while crazed howls and burning guitar tones scorch the flesh. The song thrashes and punishes with feral force, while clean singing emerges, making this feel haunting. Sludgy hypnosis comes out of that before everything ends in a charge. “Spectre” is drubbing from the start, with shout singing that gives off a Mantar vibe, and later things getting faster and grindier. Like much of this record, you’re knee deep in sludge, as militaristic drumming slashes away, and the track ends in the mouth of the void. The closing title cut has guitars agitating and the pace of the song smothering. After an initial push, things calm, with gritty strings jarring before things are pushed back into place. Mauling melodies wrap you up in muck, while the pace simmers, noise stretches and stings, and the song drowns out in a whirlpool of chaos.

Hymn’s music is an explosive good time, and “Perish” is a strong, mighty first stop for the band as they work their way up the mountain in doom’s landscape. These six songs can bruise and break bones, and making your way on this muscular journey will leave you exhausted, yet satisfied, when it’s all over. This is a blistering first display from a band that seems to have a world of possibility in front of them.

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