Chanteloup Creations, 1998
Genre: Black Metal
3. Howling Silence
4. Chaos Supreme
5. Apocalyptic Armageddon
6. A Wandering Beyond
7. The King of Wisdom
I hesitate to call this Hegemon's second demo release because this is more of a re-release with bonus tracks. Both are released by Chanteloup Creations and the title is clearly based off the first demo. Although I find this title a little baffling because it was released a year later and the title implies they been doing this for a very long time... but the band only started in 1996.
The tape booklet is on xeroxed paper just like the prior release, but this one is much more interesting to look at. It's printed on both sides with quite a bit of artwork, which I'm sure is taken from other sources. However, they don't say where the other sources are. The cover looks like something H.R. Giger would create though. On the other side is a huge fold-out picture of two dragons roaring at each other.
So the first four tracks are entirely the same extremely good Black Metal, but the real reason to check this out are the three extra tracks. These are not studio recordings but are "recorded during a devastating rehearsal session, July 1998." Since these tracks make no attempt to be recorded with care, they will clearly have quality issues. I have no issue with this, I think it's just interesting to hear what Hegemon have been working on in the past year and to see if it lives up to their original compositions.
I'm not sure how fully formed the Rehearsal compositions are. For example "A Wandering Beyond" appears on the first full length and is a full minute longer than this version. "The King of Wisdom" is the full track though. "Apocalyptic Armageddon" doesn't appear on any full lengths, but the riffs certainly do. Based on the album "Chaos Supreme" I think they took riffs from "Apocalyptic Armageddon" and put them into "A Wandering Beyond".
The rehearsal tracks are actually pretty good despite the recording quality. This band sorely needs to get into a full recording studio because with strong production they would be quite a force to be reckoned with. I feel like the interplay between the instruments has only gotten more interesting than the first recordings. So, I am definitely looking forward to hearing a full length from this band!
I am posting "Apocalyptic Armageddon" below because I believe some riffs from this song never reappeared, I could be wrong though. In any event they never appeared altogether like this song again.
Chanteloup Creations, 1997
Genre: Black Metal
3. Howling Silence
4. Chaos Supreme
Here begins the career of a really great French band. I think I originally stumbled upon this band when I was looking up projects members of other bands were in. This band features Kriss, who also drummed with Mütiilation before Meyhna'ch turned it into a solo project. So on that whim I decided to check this band out and they certainly didn't disappoint! This is definitely much more exciting than what Mütiilation had been working on a few years before this. I feel like Kriss was able to showcase his drum skills a lot more with Hegemon, because he gives quite an impressive performance on this demo.
I really wish I had discovered this band back in 1997 because it was around this time where I felt like a lot of Black Metal was getting sort of uninteresting. In later years I seem to be stumbling upon all these great original bands that I simply missed out on. Even looking at Chanteloup Creations' back catalog is an impressive thing to behold, they released demos for bands that would later become legends! Unfortunately everything is limited and Chanteloup is no more. Of the 500 hand-numbered copies of this demo I own #156.
It's sort of hard to describe Hegemon in some ways, because they pull influence from all kinds of excellent sources. Even if this isn't what they had in mind, I would liken this to Marduk's "Those of the Unlight" because Hegemon have a certain degree of interplay between clean guitar passages and vicious intensity. I wouldn't even begin to call this band a Marduk rip-off, but I just feel like the song structuring bears similarity. In any event the music is actually quite well arranged and they've managed to structure songs in such a way that they have a very fresh feel compared to everything else around this time. An aspect that really stands out is how complex some of this guitar work is, while still managing to maintain a good Black Metal atmosphere. This is an extremely difficult thing to do because I find bands sacrifice atmosphere once they start trying to increase the complexity of the music, but Hegemon never had to make this sacrifice.
One thing that really stands out in this band is the Bass guitar work. Mostly due to the sheer fact that it plays a very important role and in a lot of Black Metal it is quite buried. Not so with Hegemon. Their bassist has a voice and it is incredibly important! These songs just wouldn't sound the same without the interplay between the guitar and the Bass work. There are even times when the bass appears to take over the "lead" aspect to the songs. The vocal performance is fairly standard, which might sound surprising given how varied everything else is... however, I think this works quite well. I worry the songs would sound too dynamic if there wasn't some unifying force behind it. N still has a great voice for the music and this man can scream incredibly fast through the blasting sections. It's impressive to listen to him just keep up with those parts.
In the end, this is a very strong beginning for this band. Usually you don't get demo work this well done, but Hegemon certainly have some excellent writing to show off. I imagine things can only go up from here and I look forward to seeing what this band can do if they ever got in a full studio!
I really should've uploaded "Dawnbringer" because it never made it onto a studio album, but I quite liked the song "Stigmata" and felt it was better representative of the sort of unique sound Hegemon is putting out there.