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Evoken : Hypnagogia

Evoken's latest is an effortless masterclass in Death/Doom presentation, just as you might expect from the US veterans.

Evoken is a Death/Doom band that requires little introduction. The Americans have been active for a couple of decades now and have always been very consistent with the quality of their releases so I think it's fair to say that they're a popular band, although "popular" is something of an alien word in the world of Doom! Suffice to say that I was looking forward to seeing what they had in store on 'Hypnagogia', their most recent release.

The best way I can surmise this album in a single word would be to say that it is "accomplished". Although just shy of twenty years old now, it's plain to see that Evoken haven't strayed too far from their roots in 'Quietus', effortlessly capturing the emotional side of Death/Doom on their current release. However, they've matured along the way, as you'd expect, and have built upon their initial successes by adding different elements whilst keeping the foundation the same. For example, on 'Hypnagogia', you can expect to find more reverberated harsh vocals and some intense bursts of Death Metal, the latter of which is perhaps something you wouldn't necessarily associate with Evoken, particularly as they've often flirted Funeral Doom elements in their music.

Still, it's not so easy to integrate new styles into a proven method. I tend to find that a lot of inexperienced bands fail because they've got too many good ideas on one release and don't execute them properly. That's not a problem for veterans like Evoken, though. Not many bands could seamlessly integrate contrasting styles like Death Metal bursts whilst the album itself is more thought-provoking, often complemented by spoken vocals and driven by a beautiful violin backing. Throw in the deeper, reverberated vocals, switch up the tempo a tad, and the music becomes more brooding and dark than the more melodic introduction suggests it would be. Evoken master that juxtaposition rather expertly, I must say.

'Hypnagogia' has got a bit of everything, really. It's a rather masterful composition, especially when you factor in the tidy production. In my opinion, Evoken nail every style they tackle on this release, whether it creates sorrowful or vengeful atmospheres. I struggled to find anything I dislike about the album, to be frank. I suppose you could say that, from time to time, it does feel like certain tracks aren't going anywhere, but then they do, so maybe just a slight crib over the time it takes to transcend between different "movements" of each song, if you will. Other than a slight question mark over some song structures however, I think this is a really strong album from Evoken. It's got something for every Death/Doom fan, and I think Funeral Doom fans would be a fan of the atmospheres generated too.

To summarise - Evoken is effortlessly elegant, as ever, and I don't see many fans of the style disliking this album.

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Reviewer's rating: 9.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Fear After
2. Valorous Consternation
3. Schadenfreude
4. To Feign Ebullience
5. Hypnagogia
6. Ceremony Of Bleeding
7. Hypnopompic
8. The Weald Of Perished Men

Duration : Approx. 61 minutes

Visit the Evoken bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-10-29 by Ian Morrissey
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