Swiss quartet hubris. have been around since 2014 and ‘Metempsychosis' is their third album, which is said to explore “the cycle of life and death, but most importantly, as its name suggests, reincarnation and rebirth.” Apparently, the songs “tell a story of the intricacies surrounding pivotal moments in the lives of characters from Greek Mythology.” All sounds very intriguing, right? On paper, sure. And when press blurb asserts the band are “characterised by their original style”, I had high hopes for this one. However, press blurb priming came crashing down through the listening experience. This is inescapably an instrumental post-rock album at core that's rife with clichés associated with the genre. Nice compositions, well executed, but with little imagination, and certainly music that doesn’t conjure any kind of narratives, from Greek mythology or otherwise.
So cue a ton of post-rock mimicry, from wistful, reverb-heavy clean guitar melodies (it even sounds like "Hank Marvin does post-rock" on occasion); some mood shifts, albeit melancholy reigns throughout; imaginative at times but unimaginative background music at others; the occasional burst of more up tempo oomph; heavied-up crescendos; and generally very long compositions. To be frank, it pales in comparison to everything Long Distance Calling have ever done (an axiomatic comparison), as LDC have proven themselves, time and time again, as masters of sustaining interest over their instrumental output, however long a track is. Some of hubris.’ tunes most definitely outstay their welcome, where central motifs aren't strong enough to support some of the lengthy durations. And where sporadic passages of more interesting sonic fodder do present themselves, I've not felt like devouring these at all; rather, I find myself waiting for an inevitable return to the regurgitated pedestrian post-rock clichés, which are aplenty. This is post-rock muzak for much of the album's duration.
The album kind of forces itself to be background music a few minutes in, and this is what it's best digested as. All music has a place (anything by Ed Sheeran undoubtedly belongs in the bin, for example), and 'Metempsychosis' works well, at least for me, as atmospheric background music. And this is something I will praise it for - the atmospheres hubris. have created in each of the tracks lend themselves well to create certain background moods. Ultimately, though, it suffers from lack of diversity. It all sounds rather samey; almost as if the album works as one long track, where only a sporadicity of variation can be heard - almost as if a thirst quencher from the unimaginative drought. The cover art might very well point towards a work of many different colours. In reality, however, the album is a far more black and white outing. Still, an above average effort, albeit there are many more interesting albums out there for this sort of thing.
Art As Catharsis
Review by Mark Holmes
13th March 2020
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the atmospheres hubris. have created in each of the tracks lend themselves well to create certain background moods. Ultimately, though, it suffers from lack of diversity."