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ALBUM REVIEW - Hei'An - 'imago'


Progressive Slovenian metal quartet originally started out as a one-man project by Slovenian musician Matic Blagonič but has now evolved into a collective group of musicians keen to thrive in the Slovenian metal scene. They describe their sound as post-progressive-metal, effectively balancing heavy moments with tranquil sections. This is evident in their upcoming debut album 'imago' which will take you to dreamy and enthralling metal soundscapes. The concept album is about a journey through a man's inner hell and the challenge of overcoming inner demons and trauma, so it touches on themes such as depression, loss, and addiction and takes the listener through the circle of trials but endeavours to emerge with a hopeful and positive message through its lyrics and sounds.

The opening atmospheric track 'semita tenebrarum' sets the scene and concept with a dramatic despairing spoken voice intro that starts out in a normal voice and then gets more sinister before instruments grow louder and more pronounced in an effective crescendo. An enticing and powerful start to lure you in.

The longest offering, 'inferno' featuring Oəlka from Malorshiga (a band from Slovenia that plays Istrian ethno black metal), is ambient with an especially buoyant intro and vibrant guitars and instrumentation. It has great fierce, powerful guest vocals to contrast vocalist Matic's clean vocals and helps add to the diversity of the track. A must-hear track on the album.

Elsewhere on the album, 'embers' offers up plenty of groovy, bouncy riffs and bass lines and is highly melodic along with 'can't get out of my skin', which is particularly hard-hitting with the aggressive vocals.

Another track with collaboration is 'dreamer', which features Joe Buras of Born Of Osiris. It is vast and memorable, with striking vocals from Joe in contrast to the calm intro, which is short-lived before the heaviness kicks.

Keeping true to their sound, mixing dreamy yet deep metal tracks, the song 'in the cold' is tuneful with especially beautiful vocals, while 'at the break of dawn' is intriguing and dark, asserting the concept, telling the story and waiting for the right substantial moment for the full instruments to kick in.

The final chapter ends on the title track, 'imago', which is vibrant and catchy and makes for a triumphant end to this diverse and immersive journey. The music and lyrics come full circle with the opening song, 'semita tenebrarum' ending with "All hope abandon ye who enter here" with a dark sound, and the title track ends on an upbeat mood and sentiment with the lyric, "I feel alright, fly, blue butterfly, fly from hell, go live your life". It matches the idea of the album and title, which comes from the last phase of the development of growth for insects. While caterpillars go through their imago stage, they become butterflies, free creatures with unique colours and a past. It's a great metaphor for overcoming hardships and coming out better on the other side.

'imago' is an impressive, dynamic and varied debut, and Hei'An has created their own unique sound, which flourishes on this concept album and is a hard task to achieve. The more you listen, the more you can fully appreciate all the elements and genres explored. I look forward to seeing their future endeavours and how they expand their musical journey.

'imago' by Hei’An will be out via SAOL on November 25th, 2022.

For more on Hei'An visit:

The physical CD features 12 songs, and the digital version features 15 songs. Reviewed physical version.

By Carina Lawrence (Mad About Rock)


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