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Resonaxis — Hymnarium
(Indidem IND003, 2012, CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2013-09-27

Hymnarium Cover artIn the land down under there is a relatively new band that is producing some of most unique progressive music you will ever hear. Who would have ever thought of combining heavy metal guitar, melodic bass, hard-hitting percussion, a choral singer, and a pipe organ? Not I, but this combination works amazingly well and the result is an alchemical mixture of progressive rock, heavy metal, and Renaissance music. Given that a pipe organ is not an instrumental that is easily moved, I find it incredible to me that Resonaxis can tour and perform live! Of course they find venues with an installed organ such as the Sydney Opera House, St. James’ Church, and St. Stephens’ Newtown. The band is Brooke Shelley (soprano voice), David Drury (organist), Matt Roberts (drums), Richard Hundy (guitar), and Adam Bodkin (bass). There is an overall Gothic feel to the disc that brings immediate comparisons to Italian progressive music. The opening track “Monsignor Loss” is also a particularly gruesome song “(he) broke my sternum, reached in his hand, and gouged out a hole.” Aside from the subject matter, Drury’s keyboard skills are majestic and propelled by Hundy’s guitar work. The second track, “Hymn,” is interesting as it alternates between progressive metal and vocals akin to a Gregorian chant. The high points for me are “Wachet Auf”; “Hymn 2,” with some crazed organ playing calling to mind Vincent Price; “Mysterium,” sung in Latin, with Metallica styled guitar mixed low to allow Brooke’s vocals to shimmer; and the closing track “Akasha” with more chanting and whispered voices. Brooke’s soprano draws some comparisons to Jacqui McShee of Pentangle, and her voice works well in a choral setting or when she is harmonizing. However, as a soloist Brooke needs a bit more grit and emotion to enable her to stand out. As it is, I find myself tiring of her voice, which is unfair to the band and their music.

Filed under: New releases, 2012 releases

Related artist(s): Resonaxis

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