Evoken - Hypnagogia
Profound Lore Records
Funeral Deathdoom
8 songs (60'16")
Release year: 2018
Evoken, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Alex

Evoken. The name of this US funeral doomdeath collective is legendary. There is no denying that among US funeral doom bands they are one of the most prominent, if not THE most prominent. Strangely enough, I have always had trouble getting into their material, no matter how influential, from the first listens, only to be swallowed by their maelstrom of emotion later on. I guess better things come to those who wait, or, in my case with Evoken, to those who patiently keep on trying.

Hypnagogia, the name of Evoken’s most recent full-length, does not derive from the combination of hypnos (sleep) and pedagogy (teaching). Instead, Hypnagogia is a scientific term, the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, just before the onset of the latter. In one of the TV programs I saw on TV recently, Media Labs MIT students felt that it is brain’s most creative state, that the ideas percolating in one’s head, while not fully formulated in the awake state can be extracted via technology right before mind goes to full sleep. Evoken’s Hypnagogia is not about brain’s creativity, however. Instead, it is their first foray into the concept story which is at the same time mystical, tragic and cruel. In Hypnagogia Evoken tell the story of a soldier mortally wounded in World War I, who makes a pact with god that the latter will allow this poor wretch to attach a part of his soul to a journal the soldier writes from his deathbed. As the journal will be read in the future by another unfortunate, this parasitic wight will reattach itself to the reader, consume him, and remain in the journal, for the undead piece to strengthen and the cycle to repeat again. A pretty frightful endless outcome if you think about it. Hope you will never stumble onto this opus.

Powered by the concept, Evoken deliver the album, which musically and in songwriting depth will be very difficult to fit within any boundaries. Song by song, or describing this album in detail of what is played how, is a completely futile task. Yet, describing the powerful emotions as they overcome the mind over and over must be attempted for others to be forewarned. The feeling of monumental dread which sets on right at the beginning of The Fear After is absolutely pervasive. The more deathly nature of Evoken manifests itself on The Fear After, yet there are these slow bent trembly guitar notes, piano and cello/viola touches which personify dread in the absolute meaning of the word. Death is administered here not only with the nasty ending, it creeps in slowly, like bone cancer. The unpleasant oppressive shroud continues to linger with Valorous Consternation, until, suddenly, half way through, it is ripped away with a violent, yet harmonic, closing. The sweet sickly brood of Schadenfreude, also coupled with string touches and slow rolling buttressing martial percussion, could be almost pleasant, until ending tragic harmonies, when you realize looking at the song’s title that another man’s misery can bring no joy. If Too Feign Ebullience is most typical funeral deathdoom, its muscly mid-section reminds me of Novembers Doom, the emptiness and grief are nailed to the coffin by strings and piano in the end. Creepy and lurking, relatively short instrumental title cut yields to indeed ceremonial Ceremony of Bleeding, which spirals out of control into full madness.

The end, The Weald of Perished Men, is dissolved peacefulness impersonated, harmony and serenity seemingly on display, yet knowing the story you sense that blood and sacrifice are behind this deceptive calmness, the journal waiting to claim another victim. Monumental and powerful Hypnagogia truly impresses, even from the first listen, and is worthy of Evoken rich discography.

Killing Songs :
Schadenfreude, Too Feign Ebullience, The Weald of Perished Men
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Evoken that we have reviewed:
Evoken - Quietus reviewed by Milan and quoted 91 / 100
Evoken - A Caress of the Void reviewed by Adam and quoted 91 / 100
Evoken - Embrace the Emptiness reviewed by Adam and quoted 85 / 100
Evoken - Antithesis of Light reviewed by Adam and quoted 91 / 100
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