Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hercyn - Magda


Hercyn is a project out of the forested and naturesque setting of Jersey City. I have some issues with black metal / folk projects that come out of heavily industrialized places. It just comes across as galootish. What do urban dwellers know of the scent of ferns or the feel of pine needles falling upon one's skin? But, with the influences left by bands such as Agalloch and Alcest, even the rich and vibrant concrete hues of sprawl in all directions can evaporate away in the imaginations of impressionable youth and disenfranchised minds. In the case of Magda, Hercyn's debut release from 2013, it is once again easy to forget we are in fact not sitting around a lovely and majestic brook in a Bob Ross painting, and are actually watching garbage trucks speed by while waiting at a bus stop beside an under-maintained highway. And unless a stray plastic bag which probably sat at the bottom of a wet dumpster manages to slap against your face, closing your eyes might just be enough with Hercyn to forget where you are for a few minutes. The track hints at greener pastures.

"Magda" is quite a strong track. The ideas have clearly been given the opportunity to mature, and even moments that sound jammy and improvised, such as the leads half way through the twenty-two minute opus, are executed with precision. Emphasis has been afforded to each instrument at times though Tony Stanziano's bass playing is key. With a less involved bass section, Hercyn may have run into issues of different movements feeling out of touch with the larger whole, such as the more spacy ending of the track. The constant bass is like a chain, pulling the listener through these different places and vibes. Also held in high regard here is the drumming of Michael Toscarelli, which is inventive and varied across the whole song. Guitarists Michael Diciancia and Ernest Wawiorko fill out the talented lineup with Wariorko also providing vocals. While there isn't a large amount of riffs on the release, with the band more prone on riding out melodies and chords, leads are on full display. Though they are done extremely well, they cover up the fact that the composition as a whole meanders somewhat aimlessly to my ears.

Wariorko's vocals are an element not fully utilized here. With a large variety of styles and techniques on display elsewhere on the release such as some clean guitar playing, strummed chords, faster and slower moments and atmospheric as well as more driving parts, the one-sided raspy vocals don't add much. Also, like earlier expressed, Magda may have benefited from having the single track broken up into a few separate songs. Evidence of this is provided by listening to the acoustic version, Magda (Acoustic). Excellent acoustic playing could have been mixed into this release, helped with build up of each song, and offered a more complete listening experience in a full length album. Wariorko's vocals on the clean version of the song are more of a spoken, airy style with some melodic tints bristling about. Listening to both version back to back makes me wish the band worked more of the acoustic touches into the original.

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