Riding into battle comes the great warlord, the sound of the skulls crushed beneath his mighty steed accompanying his triumphant display. He dismounts, surveying the survivors of his latest massacre. With his sword drawn, he mockingly asks if any shall challenge his reign. And from the thrall of captives rises a man. His hair falls before his face, his muscles tremble with rage. With a mighty roar he snatches the axe of his former captor and dives at the warlord, ready to make one final bloody stand.
This is my best approximation of what Hyborian sounds like. With the epic feeling of a Robert E. Howard piece set to music, this is what stoner metal should sound like. On Vol II, Hyborian create a world that immerses the listener, keeping them hooked until the very end, to hear how these stories will play out at the very least. With sprawling narratives and music matched perfectly to each tale, Hyborian does a whole lot more than craft a great album. This is an experience, good to the last drop across repeated listens.
While heavily influenced by the stories of barbarians and warlocks, Hyborian does not allow itself to settle into these comfortable waters. Themes of the album branch out into space aged epics, and travels from beyond time. At no point does this come across as overbearing, always balanced perfectly with the music. It is all too easy for the overarching narrative of things like this to overshadow all other elements. Hyborian find a perfect balance here by not using their music as a medium for which to deliver their story, but as two equal parts of a whole. There is no story outside of the music, there is no music outside of the story.
Vol II features a heavy progressive rock feel, providing a perfect score to their imaginative tales. Most of the album features a crushing stoner metal chugging feel, but Hyborian are not afraid to branch away, the music servicing each song individually. These tracks are as heavy as they need to be, with sections of ominous synth work and acoustic guitars sprinkled throughout.
Mastodon fans will certainly appreciate the creative mix of sounds that explore the outer reaching realms without moving wholly outside of the genre.
With Vol II, Hyborian spins its yarn to the accompanying music with expert precision. My recommendation is to take this in a single sitting, possibly with an herbal supplement to enhance the experience. Allow yourself the time to become fully immersed in the world that has been presented here. It’s a powerful album, and it could quickly become a staple in any progressive metal fan’s collection.
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