Hemelbestormer - Collide & Merge

19 Nov 2021

Post-Metal | Ván Records | Release date: 19 Nov 2021

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In a galaxy far, far away you might encounter Hemelbestormer. Only in your imagination, of course. All their releases are inspired by outer space, stars, galaxies, black holes millions of light years from our planet. Through their take on the Post-Metal sonics they yet again bring us a narrative about extra-terrestrial phenomena.

While the last album A Ring of Blue Light was based on the beautiful images of Hoag’s Object, this new album seems to have a darker narrative, concentrating on the massiveness of big events in outer space. The former record’s cover had a starry sky over a mountain and landscape. On this release´s cover one gets a darker foreboding with shadowy mountains and dark heavy clouds hanging over. The music is heavier than before, sometimes repetitive yet with melodies from the synths or tremolo guitar shining through the massive guitars, bass and drums that make up a colossal heavy Post-Metal soundscape.

”Collapsar” slowly sets in motion the odyssey through space phenomena with a synth indicating a vast and dark emptiness. A fuzzy guitar sparkles before the heavy, thundering Post-Metal guitars fills the space, soon to be lifted by a distorted tremologuitar. The guitars are sustained by fast drumming and the bass lays the groundwork. The synths lift all the other instruments towards a melodic theme that shines through the massive and heavy sound that will be replaced by a heavy dissonant soundscape. The drumming is mighty and the rumbling bass underlines the heaviness. The band uses every second of the track´s 18 minutes to develop an immersive atmospheric soundscape, describing the event when a star goes supernova. The collapse happens in the mid-section of the track, and we are left with synth and lone clean guitar indicating an aftermath of vast emptiness. The massive atmospheric metal soundscape once more lifts us with all the instruments floating through melodic themes.

Music inspired by, and describing outer space, cosmic music, often has synths as the only or main instrument. But bands like Mesarthim, Mare Cognitum, Alrakis and Hemelbestormer has proven that atmospheric metal related genres are just as good a tool to envision the cosmos. Hemelbestormer continues doing this throughout the album incorporating their Post-Metal style with Sludge Metal, Post Rock, Doom Metal, Black Metal and pure Ambient music among others. The second track, ”In Praise of the Sun” gives a Sludge Metal impression as the repetitive chugging on the guitar dominates the sonics. But, as with all the tracks, this track has many layers and here is a shift in tempo that leads into a Post Rock soundscape with glimmering solo guitar before the music glides back into repetitive Sludge Metal with steadfast drumming and bass until it fades away into a dark synth-laden soundscape.

The 12 minute-long track ”Quasar” borders on Doom Metal with the heavy sonics, firm - often slow - drumming and rumbling bass. The sonics drift into dark ambient dissonant music that might describe the heaviness of quasars with a mass billions of times greater than that of the Sun. The shortest track on the album is the title track ”Collide & Merge” and this is the first time the band uses vocals, not distinct singing, but vocalizing. The guitars are clean and playing the lower pitched strings accompanied by synths. The track is very slow, describing the most violent type of galaxy interaction when galaxies collide.

Bass guitar takes the lead on”Void” before heavy distorted guitars place a layer of a dense wall of sound around it. The melodic theme by the bass is joined by clean guitar. After an echoing shift in tempo the music develops into many layers shifting and echoing melodic themes and thus describing the vastness of the cosmic voids. Behind the forward-trudging guitars, drums and bass there is an infinite layer of synths. The ponderous music builds up until it suddenly fades away to find another cosmic void.

”Decoding the Light Vault” is driven by heavy arpeggio riffing of the guitar, sometimes dissonant, until it is met by a beautiful melody floating over it. Just when you think it is too repetitive, the track masterfully changes it soundscape and tempo to almost stillness before a build-up and the massive sonics are joined by a desperate voice in the background. The track is driven forward with the floating musical theme over the chugging, driven steadfastly forward beat of the drum and bass. The track might have the heaviest finale of any metal track since Black Sabbath´s ”Under the Sun”.

The album ends where it all began for the band, with ”Portals llll”, but unlike on their first release Portals this track is pure ambience, it is mainly played with synths and with the occasional clean guitar string in the mix. If you have not grasped the vastness and darkness of the cosmos before on this album, you will now.

Hemelbestomer is of course inspired and influenced by the usual suspects in the Post-Metal genre. But creative and inventive as they are, they have developed their own distinct sound in the genre and with this album they might find themselves as peers of forerunners and as such a band that keeps this genre alive at the same as they push the genres borders in interesting directions.