Hierophant is an Italian band that crawled out of the underground in 2013 with their sophomore allbum Great Mother: Holy Monster. The album sounds like a cross breed of Ekkaia and Eyehategod with some early Mayhem influence. The pure expressiveness and energy of this album killed everything released in the Dark Hardcore scene around that time. This, in my opinion, is the best of the band’s works and one of the best albums released in Dark Hardcore to date.
On this album the band combines sludge guitars with some rather interesting metallic Hardcore riffs, similar to those you would hear on Ekkaia or Fall of Efrafa albums. The vocals are generally growled, turning into frantic shouts as necessary. D-beat drums help the songs proceed at a good pace. The sound the band developed on this record is quite raw, reminiscent of the first wave of Black Metal albums and does well to achieve a general atmosphere of darkness and hopelessness. The lyrics are generally quite abstract, carrying a very bleak message as well.
The songs have an interesting naming convention, all of them beginning with ‘Son of the’. The first track, Son of the New Faith, jumps straight into action, giving the listener a taste of things to come. The next song, Son of the Tongue’s Prison, follows a similar structure, but notably features an interesting Death Metal riff at its core. Things grind to a screeching halt when we hit Son of the Four-Hands Way, which is a slow Sludge track ending with an excellent Doom riff at the end.
The pace picks back up on Son of the Carcinoma, which along with Son of the Public Castration, are probably the best tracks on the album. The high intensity and the pitch black atmosphere created by the riffs on these tracks make the opening songs sound rather tame. Son of the Black Mirror is the last track on the album and is another high point, featuring as slow Doom intro, followed by faster mournful riffs, showcasing the band’s fascination with Black Metal.
In the end there is little to complain about on this album. Upon the first listen, a lot of the tracks might appear to sound the same since the band utilized the same song structure on this album. This, however, is compensated by the record’s brevity, clocking in at just above 27 minutes. Being quite short, the album never has a chance of becoming boring. If heard from start to finish, this album will, almost invariably, leave the listener feeling drained.
It is a shame the band did not carry on with a similar approach on the next album. Peste, released just a year later in 2014, has seen the band completely overhaul their sound, switching to something from the Death/Grind cookbook. While much heavier and faster, the music has none of the atmosphere present on the previous albums. Needless to say, avoid Peste at all cost and stick with the first two albums.