Hyperborean - Thorns Scar Her Soul
Self released
Melodic Death Metal with Black and Gothic touches
3 songs (16'46"")
Release year: 2003
Reviewed by Alex

I have reviewed a first demo, Of Malice, by the Swedish band Hyperborean about a year ago. Suffice it to say I was impressed and Of Malice made my Top Surprises of 2002 list. Even some of my friends who are not too much into the music with rough vocals enjoyed Of Malice with its energetic melodic death metal enriched by female vocal touches.

Thorns Scar Her Soul is the second installment in the short history of Hyperborean. Recorded pretty much with the same line-up, an unusual feat for a young band, this three track Chapter II confirms my previous assessment – Hyperborean is a talented and interesting band. In addition, it expands the sound of the band into both blackened and gothic direction at the same time. Some of the most obvious changes with Thorns Scar Her Soul come in the complexity of the song structures, much more pronounced keyboards and female vocals splitting the load 50/50 with the male rasping.

Opening title track, my favorite song on the demo, opens up with great promise, leads in the vein of old Dark Tranquillity and Lothlorien, melancholic desperate shrieking vocals over leads. Two superfast guitars riff and shred all over the place. Some sections have choppier thrash character, while keyboards are not used as much. When they appear in the background, along with Alexandra Hedin supplying the vocal accents, the track has a gothic romantic feel. Stronger departure from the roots is manifested on the second track, The Shadow in Helheim. Magnus Persson “blackens” the vocal delivery and keyboards by Johan Pettersson swirl in melodic circles. Against this background Alexandra resonates admirably and takes on much larger role. The whole feeling is shifted towards blackened gothic Finnish scene, a band like Catamenia comes to mind with Dimmu Borgir being not far behind. Just like on the first demo there is a song sung in Swedish, only this time it is not a quiet “in the woods” ballad, but a half operatic female singing – half brutal death riffs Helfard. And when you think it is over, the band contributes more excellent Gothenborg leads and a quiet acoustic section with offbeat rhythms.

Hyperborean significantly expanded their metal palette. They twist and blend boundaries of genres with ease, so it is now very difficult to assign them the tag. Their songs, with all their twists and stunts, flow well and maintain the listener’s interest. Their production, drums, guitars and keyboards have improved as well. While Alexandra Hedin is no Tarja Turunen she is very clear and soothing. Even though the first demo was very professionally presented, the cover art on Thorns Scar Her Soul is leaps and bounds better, very dramatic with its red, black and purplish tones. About the only direction I didn’t really like was Magnus Persson yielding some sounds bordering on Cradle of Filth vocals, and that was too much for me.

Guitarist Daniel Gustavsson who sent me the demo (upon my request) asked me to judge how “listenable” their new stuff was. My answer – you bet it is listenable. I personally like it a lot, just want to see a whole album full of great tunes. I hope both Of Malice and Thorns Scar Her Soul are small stepping stones in a promising career.

Killing Songs :
Thorns Scar Her Soul
Alex quoted no quote
Other albums by Hyperborean that we have reviewed:
Hyperborean - Mythos of the Great Pestilence reviewed by Alex and quoted 81 / 100
Hyperborean - The Spirit of Warfare reviewed by Alex and quoted 73 / 100
Hyperborean - Prey reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Hyperborean - Of Malice reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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