Job : Hillsphere hails from Amsterdam and plays a determined kind of prog, with roots in heavy metal and post-rock. ‘Florescence’ is their new album that will see the light of day at the end of this month and is the one that will have to launch the band into a larger audience. Whether or not that will happen, I’m not sure but it’s a step in the right direction, however not the giant leap it should’ve been. Starting out with atmospheric opener that goes by the title of the album and progressing into instrumental song ‘The Breeding of Us’ for instance, is a horrible way to open the album. The intro carries no weight emotionally and the instrumental after that feels like a prolongation of said intro. No tension is created here, making for an intended release that’s all the more disappointing. It’s not until track 4 ‘Our Physical Way of Speaking’ that we hear vocalist Tim Beimer for the first time – and his vocals pack a punch! It’s a mystery to me why he isn’t doing his thing or utilized on the rest of the album because his vocals give the music some much needed intensity.
What does start to creep up from time to time at this point on the album is how the mix is a little off. Drums are not prominent enough, guitars sound mushed and flattened when they’re distorted and overly prevalent when they’re clean. Keyboard patches sound piercing at times and the vocals lay deep within the mix, sometimes even buried instead of embedded. Later on in the album, three epics close out the album in the form of ‘Ghost of You’, ‘Mind at Rest’ and ‘Clairvoyance’, but none of them truly show a different side of the band – there’s too many moments where they fall back on tried and tested classic rock influences and the post-rock from Alcest in ‘Ghost of You’; you’ve already made clear that your competent enough at those aspects. There’s no risk in ‘Florescence’, no ballsy moves or experimentation and it makes for a listen that’s as disappointing as it is filled to the brim with potential that just doesn’t come out.