Hypnos are the new wave of Swedish heavy metal.
The ’70s-inspired quintet are back with their third album, Set Fire to the Sky, and they are ever so slightly pushing the needle into heavier territory. This isn’t to say that their signature, classic hard rock approach isn’t present and counted for on this album. There’s just more of an early Iron Maiden quality to both the performance and production. Carried by their driving bass, dual guitar attack, Linus Johansson’s air raid siren vocals, and quality songwriting, this Swedish hard rock/NWOBHM/whatever-you-want-to-call-them act are really putting in the work.
From the opening moments of the hard-driving “Get Out” to the end of close of the more progressive “Slutet” (which is actually the Swedish adverb for “‘to close”), this album is smile-inducing. What Set Fire to the Sky lacks in heaviness or musical virtuosity it more than makes up for in hooks and the aforementioned earnest, clever songwriting. The familiarity I feel with their tonality is contrasted by structure breaks and some legitimate surprises, such as the oddly spaghetti-Western-ish “Time is Running Out.” Similarly, “Tell Me Goodnight” has a somber, introspective rock ‘n roll feel that never quite falls into predictable territory.
Set Fire to the Sky never settles into a rut given the emotional ups and downs that keep me at the edge of my seat with every listen. There really isn’t a weak track on the album and nothing feels phoned in. This makes it hard for me to personally recommend any song over any others, which is a good problem to have. Just start at the beginning and stop at the end.
Set Fire to the Sky stands tall and proud in today’s landscape. Hypnos wear their inspiration on their sleeves without being too derivative, yet there’s apparent musical growth here. I can’t wait to see where they go next, but regardless, Set Fire to the Sky will always stand as a snapshot of where a unique band stood confidently and at the top of their game.
Set Fire to the Sky drops September 28 via The Sign Records. Pre-order it here!
While you are at it, read our review of Hypnos‘ The GBG Sessions here!