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Hearts Of Black Science - Signal (2015) - Review

Band: Hearts Of Black Science
Album title: Signal
Release date: 20 November 2015
Label: Progress Productions

01. Faces
02. Protector
03. Until Morning
04. Timeless
05. Unfolding
06. Icon
07. Waiting
08. Falling Away
09. Wolves At The Border
10. We Saw The Moon
11. Signal

The Swedish duo Hearts Of Black Science were until a couple of months ago a big mystery for me, but then the band started revealing first singles and videos for the tracks from this masterpiece. So, when the beautiful "Wolves At The Border" which featured the magnificient vocalist Heike Langhans was released I was hooked in an instant and couldn't wait to hear the complete album. Now here it is, almost six years after their well acclaimed second album, The Star In The Lake, the third opus from Hearts Of Black Science shows their most matured and accurate side ever. The duo consists of Daniel Änghede (vocals, guitars, bass) and Tomas Almgren (synths, programming, beats, production), both coming from a small town Stenungsund (outside Gothenburg). I must also mention that Daniel is a member of progressive rockers Crippled Black Phoenix and was a guest on the latest album of Draconian. The two guys got two special guests to perform backing female vocals, before mentioned Heike Langhans, who already seduced me with her vocals in Ison (yeah, this is her duo together with Daniel Änghede), as a new vocalist in the mighty gothic/doomsters Draconian and in her own project Lorelei. The second guest is the American singer Chrysta Bell, who is famous for recording with movie director David Lynch. The recipe for something fantastic is now at hand and what you'll get from Signal is an unbeliveable rush of emotional ambiances, lush melodies, driving beats and catchy dark pop soundscapes.

Signal consists of eleven masterpieces of a playing time about 55 minutes, and what minutes those are... In its essence Hearts Of Black Science are nothing but an atmospheric-electronic-pop act, but with additions of elements from post-rock, gothic, dream-pop, indie-pop, industrial, shoegaze and yet much more, the sound becomes a fantastic captivating journey into dreamlands. The sound is all the way so very addictive and there are even moments when you won't know if you should just close your eyes and be taken away by the music or you should move your feet and tearfully dance until it hurts. Album offers a highly dynamic sound with many variation and several influences, once you'll be amazed by romantic 80s pop vibes that have a lot in common with the likes as Duran Duran, A-HA or even Simple Minds, then on the very next segment some futuristic elements will come forward, or some vast atmospheres could be compared with those of Sigur Rós, Slowdive, Mogwai, even Pink Floyd, then the darkened synthesized beat goes many times in the direction of Depeche Mode, Seigmen or M83, yet some moments can remind to The Cure, The Sisters Of Mercy, Editors and I'll be damned if I don't hear a slight touch of Soror Dolorosa on a couple of parts, even Trent Reznor's How To Destroy Angels and Nine Inch Nails can come in mind. All of those diversities are nicely tied up into one hell of a well flowing sonic mass.

Reverberate bass lines, strong impactful beats, cosmic samples, rigorous gloomy keys, melancholic melodies, smooth guitars, irresistible loops, so very emotional, yet versatile vocals all over, with many breathtaking male/female duets and backing ethereal female voices, dramatic background speeches, are all reasons that this is one of those albums that gets easily under your skin, even if you're not really a fan of this musical genre. Hearts Of Black Science so inexorably keep everything perfectly balanced between sweet melodic pop and alternative dark music, never crossing the line too much on one or into another side, the only present constant is the melancholic vibe. Already with the opener "Faces" the two artists show their potential and seduces the listener with a meditative dramatic ambiance mixed with popy beats and rather gothy guitars. "Protector" has kind of a industrial rock vibe that is very close to How To Destroy Angels and Seigmen. Beside on the first two tracks, a bit more upbeat, danceable vibe, could be found on "Until Morning" and "Icon". Then the tracks with haunting and emotional ambiances tied with 80s pop emotive expression and soothing melodies like is heard on "Waiting", "Until Morning", "Timeless", "We Saw The Moon" or "Falling Away" are all true one of a kind chilling gems, embracing the listener with kind of warmth and comfort, yet unobtrusively being so nostalgic.

The two highlights on Signal must be "Unfolding" with such a splendid vocal performance by both Daniel and Chrysta, tied so well together and backened with sparkly synths, strong beats and echoing ambiance. The listener can't do anything but close his/her eyes and be taken away into dreamland and fantasy world, or imagine vast frozen land sparkling in the sunlight. And all those feelings strengthen up on the unique "Wolves At The Border". It's kind of an ambient cosmic drone, in its core is like something we were used to hear on Ison's debut EP, so very melancholic, cold, such a perfect ethereal atmosphere, magnificient vocals by my recent favorite female vocalist Heike Langhans, who together with Daniel makes such a splendid vocal pair...

Hearts Of Black Science made a little treasure that just waits to be discovered. It's one of those albums that has that rare power to captivate in an instant and this initial enthusiasm doesn't fade after countless spins. There's such an attention to every detail, to every layer, as well the production, final mix and mastering are truly professional. Also lyrics with dark emotive thematics about global production process are nothing but exceptional and offering a strong mind provoking material. Signal could be as much intimate as much as it can be extrovert in its basis, it depends with what kind of approach you'll enfold it, nevertheless, in any way you'll soon realize that what counts for real is the beauty of those mesmerizing compositions.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9,5/10

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