EP Review: HYMNS – Reset

‘Take a look outside

and see the world’s on fire now’

Lyrics from the single, ‘Reset’ by HYMNS, released as a single on April 16th, 2021

When the promotional information for a band describes their music as being a combination of several, varied musical inspirations and four of these are Depeche Mode, David Bowie, Black Sabbath and Ennio Morricone, it’s very difficult not to want to explore further. Such is the case for the London band, HYMNS and, oh man, I’m so glad that I decided to take a cursory peek.

There are several reasons for this; one being that as a young soul who devoured music from various genres back in the 1980’s, I would have definitely bought everything within this band’s catalogue and patiently waited for every new release/live show. It’s also fair to say that anyone who is inspired by the late, great ‘il maestro’, Ennio Morricone, clearly possesses the most excellent of musical taste and must be treated with ultimate respect.  Furthermore, speaking as an Ennio devotee since childhood, anyone who includes an Instagram photo of a band member holding up a copy of the album to honour the music from A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More by ‘il maestro’ gains extra bonus points from me.

So, let’s dive in. London band HYMNS are an alternative, four-piece rock band formed around the songwriting of Oliver Hooper (guitar/vocals), with Giorgio Compagnone (bass/keyboards) Filippo Ferazzoli (guitar), and Amy Chapman (drums/percussion/ backing vocals). It’s fair to say that Hymns have a very busy month ahead with several releases; the first of which is a single called ‘Reset’, released on Friday, April 16th, followed by a 4-track E.P. which is released two weeks later, at the end of the month and a further single, ‘Concrete Skies’, in May.

Looking firstly at the single ‘Reset’, it’s clear from the very off that Hymns know how to put a song together with expert ease. Well-composed melodies are plentiful and excellently expressed, allowing the listener to relax and slide effortlessly into the music.  Personally, I again recognised a strong 1980’s feel within the composition of ‘Reset’ which definitely set my musical chakras spinning excitedly, like a windmill in a gale. For me, a strong aspect of this joyous feeling lies within the obvious time & effort spent upon the perfectly produced and mixed efforts which adeptly blend vocals, backing vocals and individual instruments into one smooth, delightful cocktail of sound.

From the very first few bars of distorted guitar that begin ‘Reset’, I was hooked. Drums, bass and a strong lead guitar add to the mix and lead up to a slow, steady tempo when the both excellent and very clear lead vocals arrive. The chorus builds up the tempo again, once more with each individual instrument clearly expressing itself within the song. Not one single component outshines another and the fine quality end-result again reflects the high standard of production on the single.

So, what’s on the E.P. to be released at the end of the month? Alongside ‘Reset’, we have three other tracks from Hymns: ‘Concrete Skies’, ‘Sirens’ and ‘Wrong’.

Personally, ‘Concrete Skies’ really stands out for me. Again, my passion for all things relating to Ennio Morricone really came to the fore here, especially as the opening few bars of guitar (which resonate throughout the entire track) took me straight to a very happy place and reminded me strongly of Ennio’s compositions for the trio of ‘spaghetti westerns’ he produced between 1964 and 1966; in particular the track ‘Sundown’ from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and especially the incredible ‘Ecstacy of Gold’ from the latter stages of the same classic film.  To quote HYMNS themselves, the band have stated that this E.P. will ‘delve deeper into their signature atmospheric sound, broadening the musical palette with elements reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks and Black Sabbath’s heavy guitar riffage‘. Yup, nailed that.

The composition of ‘Concrete Skies’ begins simply with a single guitar melody, but is soon joined by a single vocal. A touch of distorted electric guitar then leads nicely into the main musical components of the song as other instruments join the mix.  A steady drum beat from Amy Chapman and a classy bassline from Giorgio Compagnone keep the catchy rhythm going, as the vocals soar, to be joined by some very creative ‘Ennio’ touches, such as the ‘wow wow wow’ backing vocals, which again sends the imagination reaching for a suitable hat and poncho. 

I can totally understand why the band would want to release ‘Concrete Skies’ as a separate single – something which will happen next month, on May 14th. If Quentin Tarantino ever gets around to reading this Joyzine review, I can heartily recommend that he checks out HYMNS for sources of reference for future soundtracks.

The opening  guitar riff at the beginning of ‘Sirens’ also gives a respectful nod to Morricone, sounding like a track that could easily fit into Tarantino’s 1994 classic, Pulp Fiction, before the tempo alters to encompass the rest of HYMNS with some very impressive musical pieces and creative backing vocals. 

‘Wrong’ begins with another great guitar riff lasting four bars, but is soon joined by a military-style drumbeat from Amy and further examples of accomplished  artistry from everyone in the band. This track is especially strong in the bass department, although again it’s very hard to isolate one individual in any of these four tracks and say, ‘Yup, that’s the single thing that makes this song so easy to absorb’. The harmonies formed by the four band members never fall short of the mark and it’s crystal clear that the creative chemistry within HYMNS is phenomenal and truly allows Oliver’s skillful compositions to come to life.

As someone who listens to a lot of music, I’ve personally found it endearing that I don’t seem to ever tire of hearing music from this London band. Once again, the composition and production values are top notch, backed up by very impressive musical abilities from every band member. I kept waiting for something to pick holes in (I did try), but it honestly hasn’t happened yet.  If I had followed my music career, this is definitely the type of band that I would have been stalking in an attempt to join their ranks.

So, the upshot is that, inspired by both ‘Reset’ and the forthcoming E.P., I’ve managed to listen to a lot of music from HYMNS and it’s fair to say that I’ve yet to encounter anything that doesn’t hit the mark for me.  As a physical demonstration of what HYMNS are creatively capable of, I genuinely think that this E.P. fulfils the required task with first class honours.

If the band ever decides to tour in Bristol and around the West Country, I’ll be both delighted and honoured to see them perform live.

More please! Much more. 

‘Is it such a surprise

We still live under concrete skies?

Sometimes the world feels so cold…

Are we weak to feel petrified,

Or just wise?’

Lyrics from ‘Concrete Skies’ by Hymns, released as part of an E.P. on April 30th and a single in its own right on May 14th, 2021.

The single, ‘Reset’, is out now, followed by an EP of the same name on 30th April – pre-order now as a digital download from Bandcamp.

Find out more about HYMNS on their official website.

Review by Kev Milsom

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