HYPERIA – THE SERPENT’S CYCLE
RELEASE: November 17th, 2023
AUTHOR: Paul Hutchings
01. Ego Trip
02. Automatic Thrash Machine
03. Prophet Of Deceit
05. The Serpent’s Cycle
06. Trapped In Time
07. Spirit Bandit
08. Eye For An Eye
09. Binge & Surge
11. Crazy On You (Heart Cover)
2022’s “Silhouettes Of Horror” was an album that I enjoyed overall. There were many aspects of it that I found needed improvement but overall, it was a fine second release and rightly received plenty of praise. Well, HYPERIA is back with “The Serpent’s Cycle”, their third album and from the start it’s evident that they’ve upped their game. 11 tracks of savage thrash metal, with Marlee Ryley once more screaming and roaring her way across the songs. I’m not convinced that she’s improved vocally, but her power has certainly not waned in any way, as she turns in a performance of pure aggression.
Songs such as “Automatic Thrash Machine” leave you in little doubt as to the nature of the band’s music, albeit a tongue in cheek theme. Surely a favourite in the live setting, it’s explosive. There is a serious side to much of the band’s music though, as well as opportunities to demonstrate their chops. “Prophet Of Deceit” had a working title of “Shredlord Supreme”, and it’s easy to see why as the blistering work of guitarist Colin Ryley rips all over it. An exercise in showmanship as much as song composition, it’s more serious themes slightly overshadowed by the extreme musicianship on display. There are some powerhouse drums on it as well.
If I have one criticism about HYPERIA, and this applies to so many bands today, it’s that Ryley’s vocals are often a little one dimensional, offering little in variation. That’s fine on a track like the bruising opener “Ego Trip”, but by “Psychosomatic”, a song about the vagaries of the medical system, it can be a little wearing. A complex track with a neo-classical breakdown, the song cries out for some cleaner vocals, rather than more sandpaper rubbed over the tonsils.
The title track continues in much the same vein as many here. Frantic thrash metal with little control on the pace or tempo, it’s a runaway horse that will tick many boxes for those who like their metal at the fast end. At times, it’s almost too fast, but this is a thrash band so why the hell not? “Trapped In Time” finally sees some cleaner vocals, and despite the powerhouse drumming from Ryan Idris (touring drummer for US thrashers Heathen), who puts in some shift on the whole album, there’s a richer melody that surges through the song. It’s almost a breath of fresh air amidst the raging inferno that swirls around it. That is soon crushed by “Spirit Bandit”, by their own admission, one of the fastest songs the band has ever written, it pushes the band to their limits, and at times you can hear them creak a little, yet they succeed by sheer willpower and no little musicianship.
There’s no doubting the ability of the band, with the guitar work at times simply mind-blowing. However, the sheer indulgence may be a little bit divisive, for at times, such as in the latter part of “Eye For An Eye”, a simple chunky riff works just as well. But if you want the party thrash that bands like Municipal Waste do so well, then it’s “Binge & Surge” that is very much in the right ballpark. A ferocious, straightforward thrasher with an intense drive, it’s the kind of thrash metal that one needs to experience in a sweaty club with beer in hand.
Whether the beefed-up version of Heart’s “Crazy On You” which ends the album is a good idea is open to debate, for Ann Wilson’s vocals are, in my book, untouchable. Brave certainly, and the heavier musical side works to a degree. However, the calmer middle section is destroyed by the pounding drums, and I’m generally not over-excited about it.
Moving the cover version aside, “The Serpent’s Cycle” contains plenty to enjoy. The cover artwork is an improvement on previous pieces, and the band have upped their game since the second release. They still straddle thrash and death metal to an extent, and it’s this combination that doesn’t always work. That they have managed to bridge the divide is to their credit, and overall, if fast and furious is your bag, this is an album that you should spend some time with when it is released.
Note from the editor: The band have added an extra guitarist, Skyler Mills. Drummer Ryan Idris was replaced by Aaron Bell. This leaving both Marlee and Colin Ryley as the only original members and founders of HYPERIA.