Released by: Test Your Metal Records
Released: August 7, 2015
Genre: Power Metal
Iuri Sanson – Vocals
Abel Camargo – Guitar
Renato Osorio – Guitar
Benhur Lima – Bass
Eduardo Baldo – Drums
Hibria is a band I’ve had some serious ups and downs with. Most notably, the Brazilians started off strong with their heavily speed metal influenced debut Defying the Rules, a more classic sounding power metal album that left me impressed, while their third album Blind Ride introduced more modern elements and left me with some pretty mixed feelings. Between my disappointment with that album, and news about further lineup changes for their one, I wasn’t terribly excited about the band moving forward at that point. Then their fourth release Silent Revenge came and impressed me again, feeling like a nice balance between their old sound and their newer sound. Two years later, and with more time to work together, the lineup has been left fully in tact for their latest, which they’ve chosen to make a self-titled release. I was very optimistic going in, as I was expecting the band to stick to what worked last time and build on it, hopefully resulting in an even better album. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what happened.
Instead, this feels like a haphazard mix of sounds that don’t always work together too well. The base style is familiar: They still play a very heavy, very technical guitar driven brand of power metal, but this time around they’ve mixed in elements of several different styles, with mixed results. It almost feels like the more straight-forward and more focused Silent Revenge never happened, and instead the band continued where they left off with Blind Ride, throwing in all kinds of odd experiments. Even Iuri Sanson has regressed again with his vocals, this time mixing in some very irritating grunts and high pitched wails to go along with his strong main vocals, especially in the second half. On the whole, I find the second half of the album very frustrating, though I will go into more detail later in the review.
Not everything is bad, though. The musicianship is fantastic as always, with excellent guitar leads, great drum work, and some amazing solos throughout. If anything, the instrumental work feels more varied and more technical than on their last two albums. The album gets off to a strong start, with the opener “Pain” being an enjoyable mostly mid tempo power metal song with a great opening, a fun chorus, fantastic instrumental work, and a pretty cool section in the middle where they added in a trumpet for extra flavor. It only gets even better with the next two tracks “Abyss” and “Tightrope”, the most traditional power metal tracks on the album. Both are speedier tracks and have some excellent vocal melodies, especially during the chorus, as well as of course some great riffs and solos. They’re still quite heavy at times, but they have just enough melody to make them instantly satisfying for power metal fans. If most of the album was like those two songs, I’d have been very happy.
Other highlights include two more interesting tracks. First up is the power ballad “Life”, where they added in an orchestra at point, for a more dramatic sound. It has some heavy riffs at points, but it’s mostly a very calm and relaxing track, where Iuri gets to showcase his voice. Here he sounds powerful and emotional throughout, especially during the middle section where he really goes all out. I’m criticizing his vocals a lot in this review, but this song is an example of why, because when he just sings normally, he can be great. Not everyone is meant to be a thrash vocalist, or whatever he tries to be sometimes. I also really like the more progressive mid tempo track “Fame”, another mostly calm track, with one explosive instrumental section. Again, Iuri sounds really good here, and he’s accompanied by Crucified Barbara vocalist Mia Coldheart, who also does a great job. This track is the only one in the second half that I enjoy almost as much as the first three songs.
Elsewhere, they incorporate elements of thrash, especially in the riffs and the vocals. These tracks have mixed results, especially since I find Iuri’s screaming to be very obnoxious and hard on the ears at times. The best of these is “Church”, a fast paced track where the screams are a bit annoying during the verses, but then the chorus is more melodic and Iuri sings normally, so it sounds great. Even the verses almost work because of how good the guitar work is. The more mid tempo “Ghosts” is similar and also quite good, while the closer “Words” probably would have been a great track if not for some truly terrible grunts during the verses and part before the chorus, but instead it ends up being tough to get through.
For all the above tracks, the key is I find the thrashy instrumental work to be great, so there’s at least something to look forward to. Well, on a couple other tracks, even the music doesn’t sound so great. First off, “Legacy” is just painful, as the band goes into an all out thrash sound, but it sounds oversimplified and very sloppy, which makes the vocals harder to deal with. The song ends suddenly after just over 2 minutes, and then the similar sounding “Ashamed” kicks in and is even worse. It’s mostly a mid tempo thrash/groove metal song with some really horrible gang vocals, and even musically it’s just not interesting at all, for the most part. The instrumental section is unique, though, as they bring back the trumpet, and while it doesn’t quite fit in with the tone of the song, it does sound kinda cool, and the following, much faster section is even better. But man, that chorus is just insufferable, and ranks along with “Shoot Me Down” as the band’s low point.
Hibria is a fun, varied and at times very enjoyable listen, but like the band it;s named after, it can also be very frustrating at times. In general, I find the more power metal focused sections to be great, and the softer parts are effective as well, but when they try to add in some thrash elements, the results are very mixed, in large part due to the vocals. I’d recommend it to fans of more aggressive power metal, as long as they can handle those screams, but compared against their past works, I’d say it’s probably just ahead of Blind Ride and behind all the rest. Solid, but nowhere near what they’re capable of, and a definite step back from Silent Revenge.
Written by: Travis Green