Black Lodge Records (2012)
They say you have a lifetime of memories and experience to draw from in your first album - then have to compress the timeline into a mere one or two years for the follow up. Swedish female metal act Hysterica seemingly burst onto the scene with Manowar-like presence and fiery imagery plus larger than life stage names on their debut album “Metalwar” from 2009. In mid-2010 keyboardist Marydeath joined the band, which naturally causes a little bit of a sound shift for the group. 4 of the tracks on “The Art Of Metal” came out digitally in 2011, preparing the world for Hysterica’s expanding stylistic horizons- it’s not merely traditional and power that permeate their output, but also elements of doom and melodic metal creep into their sound.
Could some of this influence come from the new production/mixing team of Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall) and Marcus Jidell (Evergrey)? Possibly - as the band wanted seasoned musicians to give them another perspective on their sound. Vocalist Anni De Vil explores more of her extreme and melodic range, giving songs like “Spirit Of The Age” and “Force” direct command and respond moments that audiences into these styles really get into. Musically adding a keyboardist does give the material more of a Rainbow meets Black Sabbath feel- Marydeath is not attempting to neo-classically change up the proceedings, she’s more of a soothing mid-range option to allow guitarist Bitchie more room to deliver classic mid-tempo or power riffs that stick to your bones from opener “Breaking The Walls” to the epic 7 minute doom piece “Message” that marries Candlemass atmosphere with Blackmore-like solo emotional impact.
“The Art Of Metal” is a transition album, especially if you figure Hysterica would stick to their traditional, old school ways from the first go around. If I were to only judge this effort individually, I’d say the band have a good, versatile frame of reference to now appeal to broader live audiences in major markets. The critic in me believes “The Art Of Metal” tries a little too hard to be a pot luck stew instead of its own, distinct meal (the modern staccato touches for “Fear Of The Light” a major letdown) - and as such think this is a good effort but believe the best is still yet to come for this five piece femme fetal act.
Rating: 4 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe