Burial Hex, the project of multi-instrumentalist Clay Ruby has put out a plethora of releases, with their excellent debut, self-titled album and Book of Delusions really standing out. Now with his latest release, Ruby takes the project even further in terms of how dark his sound can get and how interestingly his music has evolved. Ruby is a great molder of different genres. Through Ruby’s intriguing kaleidoscope aspects of new wave, power electronics, techno, black metal and industrial music, among more, collide together resulting in the imposing sound of Burial Hex.
The ceremonial vibe of The Hierophant is the strongest aspect of Ruby’s concept in this case. Starting things off in a very impressive way when “Winter Dawn” comes in and its expansive melodies begin to develop. Throughout the labyrinth of Ruby’s thoughts, many different features of Burial Hex are introduced, from the darker atmosphere of “Final Love” to the horrific ambiance of the title track. “Never Dying” features a more minimalistic side of the band, but that does not mean that Ruby is unable to make the sound appear grand and daunting, once more. In all that the percussion really steps up to the occasion. No matter what sounds Ruby and whether they can be described as unorthodox, they always work. The big e-drums of “Winter Dawn” and the inclusion of claps later on in the song build the rhythm nicely, while things can get more frantic when that is the way to go. That is the case with “Final Love,” brining to mind an almost rain sound, and near the end of the closing track. Other times, more bizarre sounds are implemented in order to create a more striking sonic background, for instance the bell sounds in “Never Dying.”
What further aids this air of mysticism and esoterica is the vocal delivery of Ruby. The more straight-forward parts, like “Winter Dawn” and the closing track of the album, feature clean vocals, which take on an almost narrative performance style. Those instances have a big impact on the music of Burial Hex, aiding even more the ceremonial vibe that Ruby is so magnificently building. But that is not all that you will find in The Hierophant. When the music needs to take a turn towards the more eerie and cold, whispers are included in the vocal performance, giving you chills. About nine minutes in the closing track, these whispers really make the difference, while their addition beside the growls in “Never Dying” builds great contrast for Ruby. And yes, growls are also in there. The almost guttural sound of the vocals in “Final Love” really shines, while the title track radiates a terrifying aura with the extreme vocals slashing through the music.
The ability of Ruby to create a contrast between the melodic and the dissonant side of Burial Hex is a highlight on its own. “Final Love” displays that aspect of Burial Hex, with Ruby being able to come up with some melodic lines amidst the darkness of his musical concepts. And the title track is just an unbelievable matching of opposites, from the piercing violin sound which slowly progresses to a magnificent display of marvelous discordance. But still the melodic side is quite at large here. Especially in the opening song, with the more ethereal vibe bringing forth that eerie feeling, then taken over by the circling melodies about three minutes in, giving an industrial like attitude to Burial Hex. The melodic piano in “Never Dying” is also another example of this side of Burial Hex, but the most impressive moment has to be the closing track, “The Most Foolish Son Is Always The Oldest One.” The violin at the start sets the tone and then the synths take over lifting the track even further, as the breathtaking phrases create one of the strongest tracks of the album.
To top it all off, Burial Hex implement effects to further increase the striking sound of this release. Their creativity with that side of the music is really impressive, with especially the first part of “Winter Dawn” and “The Hierophant,” standing out. Another strong moment being the ending of “Never Dying” and start of the closing track as the delays wash over from one to the other. While the vocal processing that had to be done in this album in order to get that unearthly type of vocals, when they are at their extreme state, is impressive.
The Hierophant is a huge album, with Ruby giving one of his best performances and providing some of his most intense compositions. If you want to glimpse into the darkness then this one is for you.
8.1 / 10
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