|Musical Style: Stoner Doom||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Stone Groove||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2014||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 75%|
If the expression “broke the mold” comes to mind on first listen to Syndrig Tymes, the spring of 2014 full-length debut of Dan Lively’s HypNoGog project, it wouldn’t be an accident on part of the artist. Consider how Syndrig Tymes takes the unconventional - or at the very least atypical - musical heading by emphasizing massive-riff-driven-stoner-doom-metal-and-hard-rock in an instrumental but improvisational package. When further factoring the strong groove, funk, blues, jam and psychedelic influences imbuing the HypNoGog material, the upshot is a wide divergence of styles that despite their compelling dissimilarities combine to form a compelling whole that is uniquely Syndrig Tymes.
So what exactly does HypNoGog mean? Lively, a believer who considers himself spiritual but not religious offers his thoughts: "As we begin to fall asleep we enter a state of consciousness somewhere in between sleep and wakefulness. This is called the ‘hypnogogic realm’. The mind is incredibly free and lucid imagery courses through the dream space. In this realm, forms merge and juxtapose in unusual ways and can be the source of limitless creativity". According to the artist, this is where the HypNoGog songs come into play, with the ‘hypnogogic realm’ proving the centerpiece of said creativity.
HypNoGog sets itself apart from other metal bands in this regard due to its improvisational roots, which reveal itself in how Syndrig Tymes represents a collection of live-in-the-studio instrumental improvisations with little or no doctoring and writing before the tape started rolling. In other words, what you here is what the artist did, right on the spot! HypNoGog further differs from other ‘jam bands’ due to its overriding heaviness, riff driven focus and mood filled penchant- all the while sidestepping the pitfalls of pointless meandering and ‘jangly’ leanings that can hold back jam based music.
When factoring the quality of the albums first half, one cannot but get the impression Lively brought many very solid song ideas with him to the studio even if in an improvisational format. Opener “Reprimand Of The Watchers” shines in this regard, eight minutes of the most ominous and foreboding doom metal you will find with churning low end and trenchant riff driven proclivity. Interspersed amidst the angst is periodic guitar feedback and stilly done passages adding to the ethereal effect. Little doubt is left as a result that the artist’s background includes work with Victor Griffin (contributing bass to the track “Love Song For The Dying” from the In-Graved self-titled debut) and David Benson (handling all bass on the Evil Killer release).
“Paranormal Supernature” maintains the caustic momentum but in the much abbreviated (2:55) package. The song starts to atmospheric keyboards that segue to Lively’s trademark plodding riff accent but with edgy Hendrix influenced soloing in the backdrop (such quality reveals itself in how the artist graduated from GIT in Atlanta). Slightly slower but catchier is the feel in comparison to “Reprimand…” “Earth’s Earliest Ages”, in contrast, sets a chaotic tone with its all out intense statement, as tortured bass lines combine with near mesmerizing harmonies and more inspired soloing. I might describe things as punch laden but with astringent undercurrents.
After three straight equally good doom masterpieces, the album moves on to a vocal track, “Get Thee Away”. This one proves up-tempo all the way, with melodic bass and catchy rhythms aligning with the artist’s mid-ranged vocal presence (appropriately, you will find a slight hint of Ozzy in his voice). Incorporated are slower moments in which doom-ish riffs and plundering drums hold sway. Lyrics are about a wicked woman:
What do you want?
I just don't care
Leave me alone
Get out of my hair
What did you say?
Doesn't matter anyway
You lie, change your mind
What you say doesn't mean a thing
Get Thee Away…
“Of Furry Ones And Greys, Pt. 2” brings its variances, starting to groove flavored underpinnings with a funky bass line prior to hard charting rhythm guitars crashing in. The song sets a more portent tone the rest of the way with tempo slowing as guitars gradually build and play the more prominent role in standing alongside more jaw dropping soloing.
Syndrig Tymes hits a lull upon reaching its midway point in encountering several songs that, while still very good, are a slight notch below the five that precede. “Can” is a short but upbeat hard rocker with a surely mentality that can be found in its driving metal laced guitars. Likewise, “Orange Marmalade’ sustains the up-tempo demeanor in resurrecting the groove and funk influences but with wave-like guitars that hint of U2.
Slowing the tempo is “Boneyard”, a deliberate and lumbering stoner hard rock jam exuding a bluesy milieu reflected in its shuffling bass line. This one proves doom and the blues go hand in hand. “Lycans” comes across leisurely, almost machine-like with muscular guitars and lumbering pace adding to the pensive attitude at hand. Straight on doom but also slightly repetitive (it might have worked better if cut by a minute or so).
Ten-minute epic “Oh Yeah” represents a return to top HypNoGog form. The song holds up perfectly despite the length, with a foundation of subdued melodic guitars lending to its lighter and more laid back essence. Heavy groove rock as opposed to metal is the first thought that comes to mind. Also, note the psychedelic feel to the soloing, which lends an unmistakable jam based propensity.
“Orange Wizard In A Blue GTO”, another silly but cool song title, finds HypNoGog again exploring its bluesy side. Shuffling bass lines dominate a lively scene characterized by full on catchiness, as rumbling guitars and what sounds like forlorn feedback from a distant grave lend a staunch rocking aura. Again, blues and doom prove inseparable.
A core of able musicianship forms the backbone of HypNoGog. It starts with Lively, who handles all vocals and lead guitar while sharing rhythm guitar with Scott Reed and bass with Reed and Russ Detko. Lively and Reed contribute drums in addition to four other timekeepers. Despite the preponderance of musicians, the album remains a uniform work in failing to reflect the disjointedness that potentially hinders projects featuring a wide array of players.
Production comes across surprisingly clean and transparent despite no overdubs or doctoring on the back end. Credit the artist in this capacity from avoiding the haphazard feel that potentially holds back live in the studio releases. Lively did all engineering and production
Syndrig Tymes adds up to seven great songs and four others in the good to very good range- a winner in my books! The improvisational approach, as a result, proves one that works when backed by talented players allowed to exhibit their creativity in an impromptu setting. Equally important is how the refreshing aspect to the instrumental stoner-groove-doom bearing goes against the grain of the ‘guitar-shred-wankery’ that passes for most instrumental hard rock these days. If interested in something that breaks the mold then by all means check out HypNoGog!
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Reprimand Of The Watchers” (7:51), “Paranormal Supernature” (2:55), “Earth’s Earliest Ages” (4:28), “Get Thee Away” (5:48), “Of Furry Ones And Greys, Pt. 2” (5:10), “Can” (3:19), “Orange Marmalade” (3:46), “Boneyard” (4:16), “Lycans” (5:44), “Oh Yeah” (10:27), “Orange Wizard In A Blue GTO” (4:04)
Dan Lively - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass & Drums
Scott Reed - Guitars
Russ Detko & Scott Reed - Bass
Joe Brown, Donovan Rhodes, Chris Henderson, Keith Cordial, Scott Reed & Tim Pyne - Drums