Hypnosis of Birds

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Buoyed by the loyal patronage of their onetime disciples Metallica (who made their song "The Small Hours" fit for metal mass consumption by covering it on their Garage Days Re-Revisited EP), New Wave of British Heavy Metal heroes Holocaust managed to outlive their original 1980s expiration date and stumble their way into the 1990s. But the release of 1992's contemplatively titled Hypnosis of Birds could hardly be termed an auspicious one, since its mostly mediocre contents (including Holocaust's own, first-time studio rendering of "The Small Hours") combined distressingly weak production with disappointing songwriting to painful effect. What's more, adventurously structured compositions like the title track, "Book of Seasons," and "Mortal Mother" found Holocaust attempting to emulate the work of Canadian progressive metal space cadets Voivod (circa genre-defining efforts Dimension Hatross and Nothingface), only with significantly inferior results. Indeed, even main man John Mortimer's skeletal vocals here bear a striking resemblance to the ubiquitous Snake, but all of this gets thrown for a loop with the epic "The Tower," which takes a page from new wavers Big Country for its rolling percussion, then dives into some complicated metal riffing before concluding on a very strange cello-enhanced outro. All this certainly makes for some commendable experimentation, but overall, Hypnosis of Birds still smacks mostly of well-intentioned confusion. And yet, amazingly, the album was released not once, but twice, when Neat Records augmented it with three bonus tracks and renamed it Spirits Fly four years later.

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