It’s been two years since Sydney, Australia’s prog metal masters Hemina released their sophomore effort Nebulae, but the time has finally arrived as the bands 3rd full-length release entitled Venus was released on November 11, 2016. Venus may be the bands most ambitious and daring release yet, an 80 minute concept album detailing and examining domestic violence, relationships, and individuality in the 21st century with a narrative arc to accompany and elaborate on their previous conceptual output. Pretty serious subject matter to be sure. When asked in an interview how the concept of the album came about, lead vocalist/guitarist Douglas Skene stated,
It pretty much all originated from my time working on government social work. I saw the trials and tribulations of family situations and how people get lost in the darkness even when they call it love. This album is an observation on how relationships can go sour once the trust has been broken and people persevere after the point of no return.
Influenced heavily by Opeth, Dream Theater, Katatonia,Pain of Salvation, and Symphony X, among others, Hemina has taken their collective influences and created a sound all their own. Douglas Skene’s vocals run the gamut from serene, to melodic, to aggressive, but always engaging and original.
Venus was produced and mixed by Douglas Skene and drummer Nathan McMahon at Ploughman Studios with audiophile mastering from Ermin Hamidovic at Systematic Productions (Periphery, Devin Townsend, Plini), this is Hemina at their best. Showcasing heavy rhythms, intricate time changes, massive grooves, and lush, soaring melodies. According to Skene, the songs on Venus were written progressively over a period of the last 5 years with new drummer McMahon having a lot of input with the arrangements and key changes.
In order to fully appreciate the massive amount of progressive opulence on Venus, the listener should be open to a wide variety of genres and musical styles as throughout the album the band inject each song with djent-esque guitar riffs, jazz influenced saxophone (the aptly titled Expect the Unexpected, Moonlight Bride), 80’s prog synthesizers, layers of crystalline acoustic guitar, massive rhythm section, beautifully executed vocal harmonies, shredding yet memorable guitar solos, and pulverizing heavy guitar rhythms of Skene and Mitch Coull.
At 80 minutes in length, this is not an album for anyone with a short attention span . I recommend putting on a great set of headphones, closing your eyes and letting the music wash over you and take you on a musical journey. By the end of the first listen, I can guarantee that you will walk away a fan, if not a bigger fan of Hemina’s music than when you first started listening. This album is for those who enjoy technical and sonic brilliance in their listening repertoire. Highlights for me include the title track (featuring impressive co-lead and harmony vocals by bassist Jessica Martin), the first “single” High Kite Ride, the epic melodious progressive tour de force Down Will Come Baby, and the anthemic Moonlight Bride.
With each release, Hemina continue to top themselves in every way. Whether it is by incorporating new styles into their musical influences, improving their already stellar musicianship and songwriting, and creating classy, sophisticated, yet memorable melodies both musically and vocally. I would highly recommend Venus to any fan of melodic progressive rock and metal, you will not be disappointed. One can only hope that Hemina continues to thrive, not only in their native Australia but also throughout the world.
Douglas Skene – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Mitch Coull – Guitars, Vocals
Jessica Martin – Bass, Vocals
Nathan McMahon – Drums, Vocals