Hiraes – Dormant (Napalm)

Monday, 22nd January 2024
Rating: 9/10

Hiraes’ debut, 2021’s Solitary, proved to be a shining beacon for old school melodic death metal fans. They showcased their knowledge of the genre’s capabilities (4/5 members were in the long-running Dawn of Disease and vocalist Britta Görtz came from Critical Mass) and gave it a more modern polish to let the gallant melodies shine. With that capability down pat already, Dormant exploits the group’s knowhow, embracing a live-ready energy and upping the more thrilling aspects of melodeath to a glorious high mark that should be an easy sell to anyone who fancies this type of music.

As with much of the older melodic death metal movement (a la early Gothenburg), the guitar melodies are given free reign to showcase themselves. If the potent opener “Through the Storm” doesn’t win over any new fans, leave it to the follow-up cut “We Owe No One” to easily pick up the rest of the crowd. It’s a thrilling, melodeath anthem that’s as heavy as it is full-on hook-laden. The level of playfulness is through the roof, and all without having to lean towards much of any poppier elements the genre began to embrace towards the early/mid-2000s. Really, it’s one of the strongest cuts this scribe has found in quite some time, and definitely deserved it’s showcase as a single. The album does some occasional shifts in tone after this, which aids in giving it a more dynamic feel. “Undercurrent” ushers in some melodic moments and melancholy to the mix (and even a few brief clean vocals), and later cut “Ocean Child” augments into more somber segments (though still ramping up the aggression at times). On the other hand, “Nightflight” is an absolute battering ram of a track, blazing up some death metal fury with no sense of relent all the way to Görtz’s visceral growls, and the title-track closer effectively straddles some raging melodeath with some potent synths and standout melodies. The album’s longest song, “About Lies” doles out some aggression as well, though the mid-tempo crunch and playful melodic nuances are what keep your ears glued to it for its almost 7-minute runtime.

A step up in all ways from their already enjoyable debut, Hiraes really nails the melodic death metal sound on Dormant. They keep the strongest assets of the genre at the forefront while pushing the sound and production up to the current day standards. It’s ‘blaze of glory’ melodeath, but with just enough somber introspection to shake up the dynamic to keep you on the edge of your listening seat.

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