In a neat twist of fate, this album is one that just missed my Top 20 for 2017 but now I get to fawn all over the reissue of the début album from Kansas City’s Hyborian. It’s called Vol. 1 (Season Of Mist) and it’s a fucking ripper.
Quick note to the concept of the record to start with as it really makes the whole thing worthy of more than just listening to it once. Inspired by the story of Conan, this album recounts the journey of an interstellar, extra-dimensional cloaked being called The Traveller, this legend is told by Hyborian. The band themselves describe themselves as being a mere vessel through which these stories are being relayed. Hidden messages are also layered within the songs if listeners are so inclined to dig deeper.
Thankfully the music more than backs up this tightly wound web of stories and cryptography. What may seem like a simple nod to stoner/doom metal bands like Mastodon or Red Fang is, in fact, a far more progressive piece of work. The progression is just hidden behind some of the best Groove Metal riffs you’ll hear all year – at points Hyborian even manage to capture the same catchiness that has fans drooling over everything that Baroness has done.
‘Malestrom’ is a stormer, riding on the crest of a wave that is the sublime dual vocals, the song has some seriously addictive melodies lying in wait. It’s one of those times when a song as it goes on becomes more and more of an earworm. ‘Dead Lies Dreaming’ is the absolute pinnacle of everything that the band is about. It has elements and sounds that will be familiar to everyone, but there is just no denying that Hyborian package it together in way that feels fresh, vibrant and distinct. There is the epic intro lead riff combined with the more manic sections that create something special. It is this switch in pace and tone combined with the often brilliant vocal melodies and phrasing that inform much of what makes Vol.1 so, so good and addictive to listen to.
I’m so glad I got to review this album, and in retrospect, I should have had it in my Top 20 of last year. But at the very least with a new lease of life on Season Of Mist, this album may reach new heights.
And it will be fully deserved.