Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eryn Non Dae: Hydra Lernaia (2009)


Eryn Non Dae's debut album Hydra Lernaia (from the ever-reliable Metal Blade) has only one review on Metal Archives, and it's a scathing review offering only a 20% rating. But I named it as one of my top albums of 2009, so clearly I do not agree. Since I only wrote a short blurb before, I thought I'd write a proper review to set the record straight on this excellent release.

Hydra LernaiaEND is a French outfit that formed in 2001. Their sound is extremely difficult to categorize; Metal Archives says it's groove metal / power metal / hardcore. I have no idea where the power metal part comes from. The last time I discussed the album, I called them progressive post-deathcore (as ridiculous as it sounds). Perhaps avant-garde groove/deathcore would be a more apt description.

I say deathcore in this context in the same way you might call Portal death metal. It's not really right, but it's the best way to get the point across. The songs are mostly composed of melodies with a lot of negative space, and breakdowns. I've mentioned before that I think breakdowns are usually boring. But these are good breakdowns, counterintuitive in the same way as Meshuggah's material, and therefore interesting. Other similarities to Meshuggah are obvious: wierd, off-kilter time signatures, minimalist guitar leads, and mellow sections as eerie as "Acrid Placidity". But there are also similarities to other French bands, like Bloody Sign, in the extensive use of post-hardcore dissonance.

Somehow, despite the oddity of the time signatures, it all grooves, and there is a clear emotional quality to the music (check the slow, eerie "The Decline and the Fall"). The atmosphere created is eerie and harsh, and heavy as hell. The song structures bear the mark of post-metal's gradual evolution, ranging from ominous to seething with rage within a single song. The vocals are done in a death/thrash/hardcore hybrid style similar to Meshuggah's Jens Kidman and Gojira's Joe Duplantier, but spoken word is also used at times. The bass is prominent in the mix, providing the backbone to their sound, and the drums are simple or chaotic, as appropriate.

I'll try to sum up their sound as succinctly as possible: Whitechapel, plus Bloody Sign, divided by Meshuggah. It has all the heaviness and brutality of deathcore (without the idiot paint-by-numbers approach of most bands in the genre), the dangerous rage of post-hardcore inflected death metal, and the intelligence and inexplicable groove of the famous Swedes. Highlights include opener "When Time Elapses", "Existence Asleep", and especially closer "Pure".

The Verdict: It's unique, and it's excellent, but it's challenging. I recommend it for fans of anything experimental, and particularly to people who love Meshuggah but hate the current djent scene. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.


  1. I love Meshuggah but hate the current djent scene! Maybe I need to give this another go.

  2. I can't recommend it enough, if you fit the profile. Sounds like you do.