Sounding more in line with the European stylings of melodic death metal than with anything similar coming from the United States, the Texas-based melodic death-doom metal outfit HINAYANA could be easily mistaken for a Scandinavian band, either of Finnish or Swedish descent. After releasing the demo EP “Endless” in 2014 as a one-man project by vocalist/guitarist Casey Hurd, HINAYANA rounded out its line-up by recruiting current guitarist Erik Shtaygrud and drummer Daniel Vieira and released “Order Divine” in March 2018. Currently, the five-piece band is getting ready to release the EP “Death of the Cosmic” on 28 August 2020, via Napalm Records.
The chilly, atmospheric sound of their debut album is more textured and rich on this EP, as some new sonic nuances are added to the mix and presented throughout five varied tracks. The same crushing, brutal sound of “Order Divine” is still the backbone of the EP but balanced by something beautiful and fragile that covers the listeners in layers of melancholy and gloom. From the get-go, the music has a meandering, almost mystical feel to it as opening title track “Death of the Cosmic” has some whispered passages, atmospheric keys, and acoustic soundscapes that offset the otherwise heavy, driving guitars, double pedal drumming, and menacing, deep growls. Erik Shtaygrud’s guitar solo on this track is as melodic as it is delicate, outweighed only by the dramatic and ethereal orchestral backdrop. This track is like a dance of shadows and sets a great introductory mood for the EP. First single outtake “Cold Conception” comes at you at a galloping speed, before a sweeping melancholic vibe takes over as Nature Ganganbaigal’s morin khuur (a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument) merges with the searing guitar lead and the fierce growls creating a brooding, dark sound. Again Erik Shtaygrud’s guitar solo adds melody and nuances to the fold. It’s a sorrowful piece of music but still energetic enough so that one can headbang to.
The intensity of the music is somehow broken by the short yet mystical instrumental interlude “Yet Here I Wait Forever,” where a soft acoustic guitar melody is accompanied by a shadowy, almost Gothic atmosphere, reminiscent of INSOMNIUM or early NIGHTWISH (think of “Lappi” from “Angels Fall First”). This track gives the listeners time to catch their breath before down-tempo “In Sacred Delusion” hits with doomy riffs and an underlying piano line that surfaces here and there, contrasting with the almost sludgy yet harmonic guitars and grave growls, while the guitar solo injects a bit more melody to the moody sound. This track has a sense of fragility and charm to it that showcases the creative prowess of the band. A re-recording of “Pitch Black Noise” closes the album, as HINAYANA’s masterful blend of distorted guitars, harsh-sounding vocals, and a downcast ambiance washes over the listeners. The backing arrangements elevate the atmosphere of the song, wrapping everything in shades of grey. Even though I have been listening to this style of metal for a couple of years, I am still surprised by how tranquil and serene it actually is, despite the thunderous tension of the music and ferocity of the sound.
There’s an element of calmness in this sonic chaos that is the sub-genre of melodic death/doom metal, and HINAYANA have not only found a balance between the two extremes, they have made it their trademark sound. “Death of the Cosmic” is a multifaced EP which proves that this American band can produce atmospheric metal of the death/doom variety at the level of European bands (if not even better). This sub-genre of metal can easily stagnate and become repetitious and dull, but thankfully there are still visionary people out there that can create fresh soundscapes and thus keep the flame of death/doom metal burning. Without a doubt, this is one such band. In HINAYANA we trust!
Written by Andrea Crow
- Death of the Cosmic
- Cold Conception (ft. Nature Ganganbaigal)
- Yet Here I Wait Forever
- In Sacred Delusion (ft. Toni Toivonen)
- Pitch Black Noise
Casey Hurd – vocals/guitar
Erik Shtaygrud – guitar
Daniel Vieira – drums
Michael Anstice – keyboard
Matt Bius – bass
Sami Hinkka’s solo project ssSHhh released industrial metal homage to Christmas classic “Jingle Bells.”