Band – Hypnos
Album – Set Fire to the Sky
Country of Origin – Sweden
Genre – Heavy Rock
Release Date – September 28th, 2018
Label – The Sign Records
Author – Johnny The Fox
Tribute bands are a popular trend these days, and with good reason. When a legendary band is defunct or otherwise indisposed, why not go watch a bunch of dedicated professionals recreate a band’s catalog to the best of their abilities? Then there’s purportedly “original” bands, such as Flint’s own Greta Van Fleet, who shamelessly copy one particular band (ahem, Led Zeppelin), from the guitar tone and banshee wails all the way down to the ‘70s fabrics and hairstyles.
Others are more like equal-opportunity tribute artists. Take up-and-coming Gothenburg-based heavy rockers Hypnos, for example. These exuberant Swedes do much more than merely incorporate their retro influences into their sound; no, they take idolatry one step further by blatantly aping different bands’ styles for individual songs. While their overall vibe encompasses the ‘70s U.K. greats — Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, UFO — the specificity of their stylistic xeroxing is alternately amusing, entertaining, and jarring.
Now, Set Fire to the Sky has plenty going for it from a strictly performance standpoint. New lead vocalist Linus Johansson has fantastic pipes, showcasing the range of a Gillan or Galford with the deep vibrato of a Dio, Dickinson, or Tony Martin. The guitar tandem of Oskar Wersäll and Pontus Isebring unleashes a plethora of splendid Lizzy-esque harmonies throughout, while the rhythm section of bassist Anton Frick Kallman and drummer Oskar Brindmark consistently lay down the fluid and solid grooves.
Hypnos is at their best when they’re forging a more distinctive musical path, as on the rollicking and driving “Ain’t No Fool” or the lazy, über-harmonized shuffle of the title track. Quirky acoustic tune “Time is Running Out” even resembles the soundtrack to a Sergio Leone spaghetti western.
But too often they veer too closely to déjà vu, and I’m not talking about the Maiden classic. Up-tempo opener “Get Out” closely resembles Deep Purple’s “Burn” or “Highway Star,” sans Jon Lord’s Hammond organ. The intro lead lines to “Caught in the Night” sound uncannily like The Bangles’ cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter; similarly, “Looking Out” oozes both Motörhead and Riot’s “Warrior.” Perhaps most egregiously, the somber, clean-guitar-based ballad “Slutet” damn-near plagiarizes Sabbath’s “Solitude.”
Hypnos does display potential, but they need to work on developing their own identity. Until then, they really should be making some royalty payments to people like Ritchie Blackmore, Phil Lynott, and Tony Iommi.
Highlights – “Get Out,” “Set Fire to the Sky,” “Deadline,” “Time is Running Out.”
Rating – 3/5