Russia’s Hieronymus Bosch are one of the few death metal bands who push the genre towards uncharted territories. Taking influences from the forefathers of progressive death metal (Atheist, Death and Cynic), Hieronymus Bosch have created a sound of their own, incorporating subtle progressive passages, unorthodox death metal riff layering and good songwriting without losing the overall aggressive death metal feel. They even add some classical influenced lead parts and some jazz-fusion-inspired solos out of thin air and it will simply seem to fit: a testament to the real progressive music concept.
‘Artificial Emotions’ is the band’s second release, which came 10 years after their first album ‘The Human Abstract’ released in 1995. This album is well received by death metal fans worldwide, and is considered one of the hidden gems of the genre. It’s not your average overly technical death metal album with the constant non-stop fast riffing and double pedal attack. My first impression was Atheist’s technical melodic riffing, some great basslines with a touch of Chuck Schuldiner’s riffing all mixed with a Classical vibe.
The first song you ought to hear is ‘Escape From Primitivity’. The lyrics on this album are NOT the over-abused and nonsense gore themes; indeed the lyrical themes address social and moral concepts (the band’s name is actually a 15th century Dutch painter whose art used both surrealism and illusionism to portray his ideas).
Listen to this song before moving on:
Highly impressive, right? Well the songwriting on the entire album is pretty solid so you might as well buckle up and prepare to give this album a well-worth listen! The production is perfect: each instrument separately and clearly adds its own touch to the overall sound.
I have to mention that there are three ‘short’ songs on the album which provide a calm acoustic break from the distortion assault of the album: ‘Nodus’, ‘Dew Swimmer’ (my personal favorite from the three) and ‘Whispers in Bedlam’.
The first song ‘Interference’ is provided as a free download by the band (Download Interference here). Here you’ll hear the Cynic influence with the spacey synths, acoustic passage followed by the melodic lead riff. The chorus on this one is also a killer while the technical death metal parts are spread throughout the song (you’ll surely notice the Classical influence).
‘Third Half’ is another killer on the album, with the unexpected riffs and solid structure! The bass work is also pretty impressive considering that the bassist is also the lead vocals of the band. By unexpected I meant the jazzy part at 3:10 coming out of nowhere with a great solo and beautiful basslines.
‘Tired Eyes’ kicks off with jazzy chords and melodic lines over the ‘classical death metal’ riffs. This might not be the highlight of the album and is most certainly a ‘avoid’ song for first time listeners, but that one minute acoustic guitar passage with the accompanying bassline is the essence of the band’s unique touch on death metal.
‘Blind Windows Stare’ is probably as aggressive as this album could reach while keeping the melodic passages and without crossing over to regular death metal grounds. I would recommend this song to death metal fans who aren’t fans of the works of Atheist or the latter Death, since this will be a nice introductory to those more extreme sub-genres in Death Metal.
‘Practical Criticism’ is the perfect example of how the band forms its unique sound. An introductory technical riff isn’t surprising after listening to the album so far, but the fact that Classical sweeping is layered on straightforward death metal riffs quickly elevates this song to the album’s BEST technical effort. One minute you’re headbanging along the chorus and the next minute you’re simply enjoying the technical wizardry with expressive basslines and non traditional drum patterns.
‘Heartbeat Seismology’ is one of my favorites on the album. It’s an understatement that the band has managed to create something that would be considered as groundbreaking. It’s not so surprising when Classical music is used in the neo-progressive genre per example, and it’s not out of the ordinary to include piano in progressive rock, but think of both mixed together with death metal and memorable technical melodic riffs and you’ll get this opus. Think I’m fooling around? Give it a listen yourself:
This is a necessary addition to any metalhead’s collection, especially to death metal fans who are desperately looking for any breakthroughs in the genre.