Hemlok
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Hemlok

Providence, Rhode Island, United States | INDIE

Providence, Rhode Island, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock

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(Full article reproduced via the link) - SM Magazine


(Full article reproduced via the link.) - SM Magazine


Hemlok

I was reading Hemlok's press and found a blog describing them as what Rush would sound like if they were a goth band with Syd Barrett writing the lyrics. I couldn't tell what was more bizarre - the description, that I wrote it, or that it is accurate. Hemlok has a new CD out called "Shades of Passing" which showcases their Theremin-fueled epic songwriting. They utilize a diverse arsenal of instruments to create masterpieces from the sweaty bowels of Dungeons and Dragons rock 'n' roll. I'll definitely have some money going on Hemlok and so should you but if you're not into gambling pick up their disc. With their goth feel, Hemlok has the all important zombie's chance to rock the masses.
- Motif Magazine, Original article posted @ http://motifmagazine.net/?q=node/528



Hemlok has released their debut album, entitled, "Shades of Passing." Hemlok consists of Chris Whittier (vocals), John McGrath (lead guitar, and others), Kevin Williams (bass), Jay Myers (percussion), and Brionne Alves (violin, keyboards, harmonies). I was fortunate enough to see them perform at the Rock The Ink festival, and they add a bit more depth to the music by sharing the stage with a belly dancer, Jamie Lee Fury, dancing to the music.




Having been around a few years, and through a few lineups, their current sound is unlike anything else I've heard out there. The music is too mellow to be considered heavy, but has way too much of an edge to be considered soft or easy. Progressive and psychedelic, yes. At times, angry and/or insane, with a varying degree of melancholy mixed in.




The album starts off with a very spacey, sci-fi sound on 'Cybernaut.' Right away, one can tell these folks are doing something many people aren't, experimenting with musical sounds, and succeeding. The result is something truly unique. During the live show, watching Jamie belly dance really helps add to the theatrical feel of the music.




Lyrically, the album is poetically written, with a rich, epic feel behind it.

'Hope's Silent Scream' offers such lines as "Listen for the raindrops/ As they bounce off of the pavement/ I just sit and wonder/ If it's my pain turned to raining" to a backdrop that sounds almost like A Perfect Circle.


'Birds Of A Feather' has a dark sound blended with something almost Arabian, offering this verse, "Catch a glimpse of the unknown/ Know that your finally going home/ Do you think they are waiting for you?/ I do."




Nestled in the sometimes gentle, sometimes moody five to eight minute songs, 'Toad (The Tale of the Hop Frog)' is the shortest (and fastest) one, measuring a little over two and a half minutes, but brings a punk element to their grand scale of music, producing something reminiscent of Iron Maiden. "Astrology" is the longest, just shy of 10 minutes, bringing out a lot of Pink Floyd influence. The instrumentals all share names with literary characters, such as Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep, Tolkien's Isildur, as well as a bonus track entitled ‘The Entmoot.’ This is certainly a great album to listen to while playing any type of game like Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons.

I've heard a few bands with violins before (outside the folk genre), but usually just as an added sound. Hemlok uses the violin almost as an additional voice, alternating between backup and lead vocals. When I heard Brionne was no longer with the band and they were entertaining ideas of other instruments, I was glad when I found out they recently hooked up with violinist Chie Fujioka. For more updates, they can be found on myspace or their website, www.hemlok.com.

Hemlok will be performing Friday, Dec. 19 at the Cask 'n Flagon in Boston with Ritual, Before the Rise, Limited Sight, Exit Reason, and Scarlet Brand; Dec. 31 at The Blackstone's New Year's Eve Party; and January 9 at Lupo's with Til We Die, Anger Rising, and Crimson Bile.
- Ron Sprague, writing for Motif Magazine.


Hemlok, Drink up!

Hemlok is one of those bands that lists so many influences that it would really be easier if they listed who they're not influenced by. For example, I don't hear any Eagles influence in them which is good, because I hate the Eagles.So, if their influences simply read: Not the Eagles, I'd be thinking, "Damn, I should check out Hemlok because they don't sound like the Eagles".

Not only do Hemlok sound nothing like the Eagles, some of their tunes are so diverse that they don't even sound like Hemlok - which I guess is pretty cool. They mix progressive, metal, and weird song titles (Toad, The Tale of Hop-Frog) to come up with their own brand of psychedelia alternative rock. Bands that come to mind are some combination of King Crimson and A Perfect Circle with undercurrents of Joy Division and Peter-Gabriel era Genesis before Phil Collins damned the band to Hell. Their songs sound epic, buttressed by the use of a multitude of instruments like violins and theremins that make me think this is what Rush would sound like if they were a goth band with someone like Syd Barrett writing the lyrics.

Hemlok are finishing work on their debut which is tentatively slated to come out next month. Of course these days nobody cares about records; so why wait when you can check them out at Club Hell on Fetish Night? - Originally published in Motif Magazine, 6/18/08; written by Marc Clarkin.


Discography

"Shades of Passing" (2009) (Independent Release)
"A Cautionary Tale" (2012) (Transit/Nova/Musea)
"Vendetta" (single, 2013)
Tracks from both our CDs are available for both download and streaming audio at www.hemlok.com and at www.reverbnation.com/hemlok

"A Cautionary Tale" is available worldwide via online distributors such as iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon.

Recommended tracks: "Vendetta", "Nyarlathotep", "What Do You Take Me For?", and "Swan Song".

Photos

Bio

Hemlok was formed with the thought of creating different music that would lend itself to dramatic live performance. These performances formed the very definition of their music, less a presentation of songs and more a soundtrack to some otherworldly event. Though this may sound abstract, it's not: Hemlok's music is at once surreal and rocking, able to please those left of center and still feature melodies that could almost be called "catchy". Taking cues from bands such as A Perfect Circle, Rush, King Crimson, and Led Zeppelin writing began on songs that had one foot firmly in solid rock and the other in textural detail more in line with bands like Radiohead, The Cure, and Tool. Songs could open with a dramatic, droning bowed guitar fanfare and quickly give way to schizophrenic band interplay, held together by standout vocal or instrumental themes.

Hemlok has, throughout its existence, been both very deliberate and yet chaotic.....

*Their current lineup is their strongest and most talented, but actually came together when the band pretty much dissolved around two members and still had several high-profile shows coming up.....

*Their guitarist, John, loved the violin playing that bands like King Crimson and the Mahavishnu Orchestra had in their lineup.....so he bowed his guitar with both an E-bow AND a violin bow. When fans started joking "What next, a doubleneck?", he actually took them very seriously.....

*Their vocalist, Janis, had sung primarily in karaoke situations....so, diversity in Hemlok material came naturally.

*Bri came to Hemlok not knowing what to expect, and created a role in the band (electric violin) that many fans now feel is a necessary element to their music.

*Jay joined the band to play drums, but when a key member quit due to drug abuse he found himself essentially building Hemlok into a new and more diverse outfit with 3-part harmony and electric violin: a far cry from the 3-piece power trio he joined....

*Bassist Kevin Williams came to Hemlok from a band that frequently gigged with them.... meaning he not only knew songs upon his audition, he knew the potted band history. He also had previously been a vocalist and guitarist in his own band.....meaning he knew how to play most of the songs barring drums!

*Proving they aren't stuck in a thematic rut, songs which examine more introspective ideas ("Mad") or relationship themes ("Bleed") are countered with instrumentals based on minor fantasy characters ("Isildur") or Lovecraftian mythos ("Nyarlathotep").

The strength of their material and vision encouraged them to push boundaries in terms of recording; These included Oxbow Studios in Wayland, MA with engineering and production duties handled by David Butler (Boston, Led Zeppelin, The Cars) as well as at TRS studios, whose staff can count members of both Ministry and The Butthole Surfers amongst their clientele. Following recording and production under their own watch Hemlok's forthcoming CD "A Cautionary Tale" was mastered by Jay Frigoletto (Dave Matthews Band, Evanescence, Alice In Chains). . Sonic ambitions bled into live performances, and small club shows began to be replaced with more ambitious bookings, ranging from a packed alt-club nights in Providence, RI to the Keene Music Festival in New Hampshire, the New England Punk, Goth, and Metal Festival, the Rock the Ink Festival, and most recently Templecon 2012 as well. Their stage show has utilized timed screen projection but most famously engages the talents of regular bellydancer Ms. Jamie Lee Fury, creating a further theatrical level to performances.

These efforts were not only noticed by press (The Providence Phoenix recently nominated Hemlok in their "Best Of" poll) but also by Transit Music/Nova Records; who released "A Cautionary Tale" worldwide June 19th, 2012. An east coast US and European tour followed in Fall 2012, with single "Vendetta" on the CMJ charts NOW. Acquire the taste today and enjoy music like none you've heard before.