You know what’s always fun? Being fanatical and harrasingly telling people about the latest and greatest in sludge metal. People are always more than willing to listen to every little word you have to say on the matter. Telling people in person about your new love of the band Hymn (HIM as it’s heard) could make someone collapse into a panic they you will soon be covered in Heartagram (which stands for “goodness and light” because I really did look it up) tattoos and sporting a cool new friendship with Bam Margera. Although if Hymn asked me to rip off the wings of a butterfly I wouldn’t be able to say no. After assuring them it’s spelled like the biblical “Hymn” you’re liking to have doors slammed in your face. You know, because The Bible and all.
Onto the real review: Sludge metal fell into my lap after a nasty spell of bad luck I couldn’t dodge. The pleasing screams and punk rock having its way with doom metal really spoke to my soul. Hymn’s Breach Us has, over the course of a mere four songs, something that pays homage to the greats while paving their own way into the depths of sludge heaven. When you stare into the depths of Sludge Heaven Sludge Heaven kooks back. Hymn are two Norwegian dudes: Ole Rokseth on guitar, bass, and vocals; while Markus Støle handles the drumming. They have been spitting demons out of music since their 2014 self-titled EP. Their debut album Perish laid the groundwork in 2017 with more of an emphasis on modern-day traditional doom and hardcore elements. Think Cedric Bixler-Zavala circa 2000 fronting Crowbar. It’s definitely worth your time and dedication. But 2020 saw them releasing Breach Us’s first single “Exit Through Fire”, dropping obvious influences, and marching towards something more terrifying and otherworldly.
“Breach Us”, both the song and album, begins with a machine gun guitar fury that could crack open the earth itself with the driving riff swirling around these drums that strike so directly and powerfully the amount of drum sticks Markus must have gone through has to be in the hundreds. It takes on a level of power that could empower anyone to be able to take up the strength to kill a spider or open up a jar of pickles (I’m weak, so shut up). ”Crimson” features Oscillotron’s David Johansson’s vocals. He sounds more forlorn, trenching depths to Breach Us while Ole’s guitar and bass are just building like a storm that could level any structure down to dust and memory. “Can I Carry You”, featuring Norwegian free double bass (only her vocals are featured here, but her bass work has to be mentioned because damn, god goddamn damn check out MoE if you dig jazz and noise) siren Guro Skumsnes Moe, is the beastly album closer and longest track. It acts like a plea to try and outdo everything presented before. The vocals are uglier. The instruments are gnarlier. But somehow the 14-minute behemoth is over before you know it and “Breach Us” begins again.
Hymn have made something that with each listen is slowly crawling up the ranks into my album of the year. I highly suggest repeated listens to catch each intricate aspect. Fanaticism will make you more interesting, I promise you.