Before I get down to the nitty gritty of this review, let me explain to you the band that is, Hung. Lyris Hung, yes her last name is in fact the origin of the band’s name, plays violin (most notably for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Bryan Adams, and the Indigo Girls). Jon Clark and Sam Roon of SkullzNBones.com play Guitar and Bass, respectively. After several drummers, Hung had found their permanent drummer in jazz drummer, Kenny Grohowski. Finally, Dmitry Kostitsyn fronts the band. Oh, and just a little tidbit of information for you trivia nerds out there; this album is being released by ReThink Records, founded by Chris Adler of Lamb of God. That should be enough for you to at least give this band a try. Now without any more delay, lets take a look at the debut release of Hung.
When I pressed play, I really didn’t know what to expect. The first track, Eos, was a very relaxing instrumental introduction to the album which I almost fell asleep to, it was that relaxing! Well, let’s just say the rest of this album isn’t just some Yellowcard cover band that plays a bit harder. Desert of Sad hit me like a baseball bat from the moment it entered my ears. This song was a great way to show off each of the members of the band. First, there is Dmitry with powerful growls/screeches which reminded me alot of Jaime Stewart of The Absence. Then you have Jon jumping in and playing a memorable solo that isn’t overpowering nor lacking in technical skill. Just when you thought you heard enough, Lyris hops in and plays some leads on her violin that are nothing but epic! From this point on, the album really only got better.
A stand out track that I couldn’t pass up mentioning is Progeny. This track is literally of 9 minutes of progressive metal gold. I was welcomed in with amazing fret work from Jon with matching violin from Lyris all over Dmitry’s growls. Then the song becomes very “power metally” with headbanging riffage and even clean vocals. Not sure if this was Dmitry as well as I could hear him growling at the same time. But whoever the clean vocalist is, I thought he accented the band’s sound very well. After another section of neck breaking riffs and syncopation on the drums, Lyris greets us with another solo. After she wraps her leads up, Jon jumps in and shreds your face up just before the song slows back down so the listener can catch their breath. Jon and Lyris duet at a little over 7 minutes in that could lull the most tedious infant to sleep. Shortly after, the rest of the band comes back in to finish one of the strongest tracks on the album.
So then there’s this other killer track that has been titled Evil Tsar. This track really pushes the band into the next gear and speeds everything up. When I say everything I mean everything. Sure you get faster drumming, faster bass and guitar, but even Lyris speeds up with the rest and remains as crazily technical as the rest of the them. Its always fun to hear a guitarist really go crazy on their fret board, but when I violinist can stay up to par with you… that’s something I haven’t had the joy of experiencing before.
Left for the New Life has to be on the list of the top prog songs I have ever heard. Step 1: we have a song with changing parts, not verses and choruses. Step 2: the song goes on for just over 12 minutes and holds the listeners attention throughout the whole song. Step 3: start off slow, mellow, relaxing and then build up to heavy, fast, chaotic even at times. But of course, the song sinks back down for a little while to almost a creepy level with whispering lyric and almost no instrumentals at all. Pick the song back up to its heavy and fast tempos again to reach the final step. That, Step 4, is to finish strong, and this track did just that!
Are you someone who loves to hear the bass in songs? Well look no farther then Infernal Redeemer. The beginning of the track really showcases Sam’s bass skills as he slowly gallops while Kenny also matches those gallops. After about 1:45 of clean vocals and guitar, the distortion is kicked on and the vocals alternate between the clean vocals and Dmitry’s harsh vocals. Again, the listeners are presented with Jon’s fancy fretwork as well as Lyris’s amazing violin work around the 4 minute mark. It literally feels like the songs just get better and better as the tracks go on. Shortly after, the syncopation of the instrumentals really change up and gave me the feeling that I was in the middle of a mosh pit for a breakdown, except it wasn’t terribly slow, tuned down, and generic as hell.
Hung’s self-titled debut was an experience for me to listen to. Is this the first band that has utilized violins in the music? No. But somehow, this feels different than other acts such as Eluveitie. Hung are truly their own breed of music and I am glad to have experienced the beginning of what I hope is a long and successful road for Lyris and the rest of Hung. I would like to also take this time in the review to thank Paul Cibrano of Cibrano Media for the hot scoop on this new band and the opportunity to review what I can only explain as a work of art. Check these guys out and see them in a city near you soon!