Album Review: Place of the Hidden God – In Liberating the Conscience, We Free Ourselves from Restraint
Band: Place of the Hidden God (UK)
Album: In Liberating the Conscience, We Free Ourselves from Restraint (2012)
Genre: Old-school Death Metal
There are many bands that can be lauded for their innovation and eccentricity, able to meld together seemingly opposing styles into a unique blend that feels more like an adventure than a collection of songs. Unfortunately, UK groove metallers Place Of The Hidden God have not quite reached this plateau, although certainly not for want of trying. The band describe the album as a journey fully open to interpretation both lyrically and musically, symbolizing struggle against control either as a personal or government-wide vendetta (appropriate enough in this current political climate). Taking two parts polyrhythmic rumbles of Meshuggah / The Ocean with one part Down / Lamb Of God, they tread the line between groovy Math Metal and Djent with their début album In Liberating the Conscience, We Free Ourselves from Restraint.
POTHG open with Alien, a fairly simplistic chug of a song in the vein of Groove Metal, the drums fairly unflinchingly locked into a rhythm by Ste, while Tom and Ryan provide the bass and guitar lines respectively, Ryan also providing a melodic shout akin to Phil Anselmo. It’s not a bad start per se, but it’s not until the spaced-out solo of Perception that the listener finds something to attach to, after an instrumental jam section in which it is easy to get lost. Further confusion emerges in Subterfuge, where a synth more at home on a Europe or Hawkwind record emerges unbidden in the pandemonium, before the band return to more polyrhythms. But the final straw for me was in Sorrow, where Limp Bizkit-worthy DJ scratching rears its head after a repetition of the Bieber-inspired line ”That’s right, baby”. That said, in the Metallic parts the band cannot be faulted in their musicianship, except to say that the songs get a bit long and repetitive, especially the 7-minute tracks.
There are some enjoyable elements of this album; Insurgence utilizes Ryan’s more melodic Down-like voice, and Symbiosis sports a pseudo-cowboy melody which is fun to listen to. The lyrics appear to be hit-and-miss, even avoiding mentioning the Bieber-esque line. A lot of it comes across as Korn-like teenage angst (“Afraid of being that thing that’s caged inside”), but some parts appear more thought-out (”twisting conformity to suit the path of negativity”), and would work if released in a poetry book or with a slightly less convoluted and halting delivery style. The band acknowledge in their press release that the lyrics are full of metaphors, which can make for finding personal meaning, but ultimately they lack a structure to anchor them to songs beyond a few repeated phrases as choruses.
To summarize, In Liberating… feels more like a frenetic jam than a cohesive album. It’s full of heavy, definitely, but at the same time tries too hard to stretch the boundaries, and ends up with a lack of true identity between the Groove Metal, Electro and Rock influences. That said, POTHG have certainly created an interesting concept in both lyrics and music, and I’ll be interested to see where that takes them with a sophomore release.
My Grade: 5.0/10
Buy this when:
- you prefer vaguer lyrics to find personal meaning
- polyrhythms are your thing, and groovy math metal is your mainstay
- albums that sound like jams interest you