As a fellow Canadian, when the opportunity to review Edmonton, Alberta’s Hyloxalus with their new EP came up, I jumped at the chance. Formed in 2017, Hyloxalus was brought together by the talents of Mike Bell and Nina Laderoute who quickly displayed their musical capabilities in the Power Metal Genre and only recently chose to dip their feet into something a little different within the subgenre of Dark Power Metal. In their grasp, fans of Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, and old Nightwish, familiarized by tunes like “The Pharaoh Sails to Orion”, easily found similarities in their works both in melodic tune, as well as vocal range.
Hyloxalus’ newest EP “Aposematic”, dated for release on July 28th, 2021 even touches on friendly nods to bands like Evergrey. With the harmonious vocals between Nina and Mike, it’s comparable to that of guest accompaniments such as Floor Jansen joining in on the track “In Orbit” matching well with the melodic verses, and passionate vocals of Tom S. Englund. With only three songs, and a cover, it’s hard to resist listening on repeat with each journey through forming new imagery, and notes of musical likeness and inspiration continuously being discovered. “Aposematic” is darker than their previous self-titled EP with nods to the darker Black Metal genre whilst keeping its Melodic Power Metal routes. Songs like “Frozen Rampart” and “Endless, Sightless” still linger in the heart but, both Mike’s guitar-work, and Nina’s vocals have grown both in strength and power as evident on the upcoming EP.
“Voices from the Septic Hollow” lures us in with an enchanting and haunting intro that welcomes new listeners to Nina’s unique sound while simultaneously bringing smiles to older fans who reminisce about Hyloxalus’ beginnings. With a song title like this, you’d expect grungy, sludge metal but, the surprises have only just begun. Lyrics like ‘I will bury you, let me lead you down’, appear in a siren-like tale that makes it difficult to clear from the mind.
Their second track, “Steel, Blood, and Irony” brings the power metal display to the frontlines with a fast-paced beat right from the beginning. At the 2-minute mark we are greeted with beautiful instrumentals that hold a fondness to symphonic metal classics before jumping back into the powerful riffs and speedy drumming that makes even background listeners head-bang along. Fantastical lyrics such as, “truths aside, all left behind, what he will not see, might of Steel and Irony,” are hard not to sing along with just from the initial run through. It’s a light spin on the classic nod to a Warrior’s will that not only puts a near fantasy touch on the track but, paints vivid imagery of it through its lyrics.
“10,000 Neolithic Ghosts,” combines loud, harsh guitars with the rocking palette of deep, lulling bass that sinks into the body with ease. This track is easily my personal favourite with its beautiful, and scenic introductory solo that only leads down into the depths of mystery; with dream-like vocals that cascade through a voice passing infectious lyrics like “passing through me, feels like burning, scorching the bone, and my veins, blood like flame,” it’s hard not to get lost in this song.
The final track is a cover of Black Mirrors’ song called “Moonstone”. While the original boasts acoustic strings that harmonize well with Marcella Di Troia’s voice, Hyloxalus’ version is lighter, almost like being serenaded in the smoky atmosphere of an old nightclub. It’s lusty, and otherworldly that grows in heaviness when Nina’s voice grows from soft and sorrowful to strong and fiery. Accompanied by the ferocious guitar work of Mike Bell and joined by the sci-fi-like synthesizers, a note of uniqueness plays well with the overall sound and takes nothing away from the depth of the lyrics.
Hyloxalus easily proves that it doesn’t take an army to create beautiful music. With the combination of Mike’s range of vocals, guitar, bass, and synth talent, and Nina’s elegant vocals, master-mixed by Daniel Devost, there are no limits to what this band can accomplish in the future. You can catch an early listen to Hyloxalus’ upcoming EP on Spotify, and Bandcamp. I highly recommend giving them some attention as this is quite possibly some Canadian Metal at its finest.
Release date: July 28, 2021
01. Voices From The Septic Hollow
02. Steel, Blood and Irony
03. 10,000 Neolithic Ghosts
04. Moonstone (Black Mirrors Cover)
Album review by: Chrisy Berryman