Artist: Oh Hiroshima
Album Title: Myriad
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 4 March 2022
During the near decade that I have run manofmuchmetal.com, I have had to face many of my long-held prejudices and reassess plenty of my likes and dislikes from a musical perspective. In the intervening years, I have now accepted and fully embraced the fact that I do really enjoy doom metal, and straight-up death metal, even giving in to the notion that music doesn’t have to have a big, sparkly production in order to entertain. I’ve still not fully come around to the ‘wasp in a biscuit tin’ lo-fi sounds that are the preserve of underground black metal, and I still have a hard time accepting that brass instruments and the saxophone have any place in heavy music, but I’m making progress, allowing my mind to open up more and more with each passing day. These changes in my stubborn mindset are leading to so many more wonderful listening experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed; so much so that I’m definitely going to continue to explore as much music as I can.
The latest realisation with which I am now firmly grappling has to do with another previous swear word in the Mansion Of Much Metal: ‘post’. For a long time, I have always seen the word ‘post’ hyphenated with the likes of ‘black metal’, ‘rock’ and ‘metal’, and immediately taken a step back. There are always exceptions to any rule, and I have entertained a few. But since the turn of the year, I have been faced with too many exceptions for my views against the ‘post’ descriptor to hold much credibility anymore. Toundra, Nordic Giants, and even Cult Of Luna have already struck a chord with me in 2022, receiving positive reviews. Yes, even Cult Of Luna. I know, right?
It’s entirely possible then, that I actually do like music where the word ‘post’ features in the description. The tipping point was a few days ago when I decided to give the latest album from Oh Hiroshima a listen. Naturally, this was my first foray into their particular world and within moments, I was absolutely certain that I was going to like this album. And so it has transpired over the ensuing days, even though it tests another of those aforementioned prejudices of mine – brass.
‘Myriad’ is the fourth full-length release from the Swedish post-rock/metal entity Oh Hiroshima, but it sees the light of day following a difficult period that saw one third of the trio departing the band. In early 2021, bassist Simon Forsberg’s departure saw Oh Hiroshima reduced to the duo of Jakob Hemström (Guitars, vocals, bass) and drummer Oskar Nilsson. I can’t comment on the past for obvious reasons, but all I can say is that the two remaining musicians have created an album that is fantastic.
The opening few moments of ‘Nour’ are dark, unsettling, thoroughly dirty, almost post-apocalyptic, and completely in keeping with what I’d expect from a post-rock band with a name like Oh Hiroshima. The vocals that emerge however, I was not expecting, as they have a Gothic, darkwave feel to them. Joined by a simple beat, I felt very confused on my first spin. Then, out of nowhere, we’re treated to a melancholy melody that’s immediately arresting. What’s more, the melody is created by a solemn trumpet…and I like it. It seems fitting somehow. From there, the song erupts into a wall of sound, albeit melodic and epic-sounding at the same time. The ebb and flow sees the duo plunder more dark dystopian tones, but it remains beautifully compelling thanks to anguished lead guitar notes and the reintroduction of the sad brass notes as an echo in the distance almost.
It is clear as ‘Myriad’ develops that atmosphere, emotion, and melody are high on the Oh Hiroshima agenda, as these facets combine time after time across the all-too-short record. Spanning around 40 minutes across seven songs, I’d have loved to hear even more music from these two, such is its quality.
The vocals from Jakob Hemström are much smoother, almost dreamlike on ‘Veil Of Certainty’, the longest composition on offer, falling just short of seven minutes. Again, the ebb and flow is marvellous, from moments of minimalism where just a throbbing bass duets with an energetic drumbeat, to all-out explosions of sound, it is both hard-hitting and ambient, confrontational and warmly melodic. The competing elements create a great sense of drama and tension in what is largely an instrumental affair, but one that is ultimately very rewarding given time and attention.
I adore the brooding intro of ‘All Things Pass’ that introduces keys to great effect. The melodic intent is present from the outset, building gradually as the song builds elegantly around it, only to fall entirely, to be replaced with vocals and synths only. There’s a modern Katatonia vibe deep within the bowels of the track which is probably entirely coincidental, but it gives you an idea of the dark vibes at play here. But it is also one of the most immediately catchy and engaging of all the songs too creating an interesting dichotomy in the process, especially as the brass makes a brief reappearance later on, without detracting one iota from my enjoyment. Who’d have thought it!
The tone within ‘Ascension’ is far more ambient and chilled, but it carries with it a strange atmosphere, neither entirely sad nor happy – it’s a bittersweet slow burning song that offers much more insight into the more delicate nuances of the Oh Hiroshima sound on this record. Hemström’s vocals are more prominent than at any time previously and it highlights what a great voice he has, almost dreamlike, and the ideal counterpoint to the gently building but always ethereal sounds within this particular track.
The brass of trumpets and trombone feature within the excellent ‘Humane’, which sees heavily affected vocals, and bold, rich bass notes surrounded by a gradual build-up of intensity until a controlled explosion takes place towards the end. However, in the album’s latter stages, it is to ‘Tundra’ that I find myself most drawn. I like the heaviness of the track, coupled with the oppressive darkness and the complimentary melodic sensibilities, all of which combine to create another superb composition.
Not only have Oh Hiroshima managed to put to bed any notion that I don’t really like ‘post-rock’ or ‘post-metal’, they have also given me cause to reconsider my blanket dislike of brass in heavy music too. But more importantly, the duo have managed to do so in a way that has provided me with great enjoyment over the past week or so. When the last delicate notes of ‘Hidden Chamber’ fade away, all I want to do is hit ‘play’ again and immerse myself in the rich sonic tapestry of ‘Myriad’ once more. Where power, emotion, melody, and drama combine, great music can be found, regardless of the instrumentation or the genre descriptor. Look no further than ‘Myriad’ by Oh Hiroshima for the perfect example of this sentiment.
The Score of Much Metal: 91%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: