Review 1960 : Hinayana – Shatter and Fall – English

Hinayana moves on.

Formed in the USA in 2014 by Casey Hurd (guitar/vocals), the band began as a solo project, but would eventually evolve to include Daniel Vieira (drums), Erik Shtaygrud (guitar), Michael Anstice (keyboards) and Matt Bius (bass). 2023 is the year they release Shatter and Fall, their second album, on Napalm Records.

The album opens with the first ethereal notes of Slowly Light Collides, followed by an impressive wall of sound and the arrival of the first screams. The haunting sound easily transports us, leaving the jerky riffs to punctuate the band’s advance, which leads into Mind is a Shadow and its relatively similar approach where the band calls on Vincent Jackson Jones (Æther Realm, ex-Oubliette, ex-Wizardthrone) to strengthen the vocal parts while guitars effortlessly dance in the air. The heaviness developed by the musicians carries over to How Many Dreams, which also features more upbeat leads to accompany the motivating basis, making the track rather surprising, but we soon realize that it’s not so far removed from the others, like the impressive Spirit and Matter where blast and fast riffs join the torrent of soaring melodies. Harmonics also remain true to their epic influences, before From Our Darkest Moments offers us a cold short moment of respite before joining Reverse the Code, which continues with the same massive approach, supported by the intoxicating keyboards that embellish the march. Lost to Flame reveals a much more aggressive sound, especially on the alliance between dynamic riffs and much more driving drum parts, which finally leave us with the short but crushing The Answer and its bursts of raw strength, always surrounded by hypnotic melodies. Triptych Visions follows, first with jerky patterns, then with a relatively straightforward approach and inspired melodies that complete the picture perfectly before it ends, letting Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart, Before the Dawn, Dawn of Solace…) join the quintet on A Tide Unturning, bringing his coldness and power to an already extremely well-constructed and rhythmic track. The final offers a final moment of respite before the dark, dissonant melancholy of Taken, the last composition, which the band has chosen to make slow and heady throughout its six-minute duration.

Hinayana‘s last EP allowed me to discover the band before hearing them live, and I loved the experience. Shatter and Fall confirms that the band knows how to use coldness, melancholy and soothing melodies to nourish their enchanting universe.


Version Française ?

Few questions to Casey Hurd, guitarist, vocalist and founding member of the American Melodic Death Metal band Hinayana, for the release of their new album Shatter and Fall.

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Hinayana without using the usual musical labels?
Casey Hurd (vocals/guitar): Hello! Thank you for giving me this interview! My name is Casey Hurd, vocalist and guitarist for the band Hinayana. We’re a 5 piece Metal band from Texas with a very dark, melodic, and gloomy but also aggressive sound. We’re pretty atypical for a band from Texas and are often compared to European bands – but nevertheless as I always say there is doom and gloom everywhere no matter where you are in the world and music to be written about it no matter what country you are from.

How do you personally link the name Hinayana to the band’s music identity?
Casey: The band’s name is a Sanskrit word meaning “lesser vehicle” or “lesser path” – its used to describe certain Buddhist teachings but we are not a Buddhist band and it is simply a name to us.

The band’s new album, Shatter and Fall, is about to come out. How do you feel about it? How is the feedback?
Casey: The album has been very well received so far. Long time fans seem to love it and newcomers seem to be impressed with us so far. Minus a few detractors who maybe don’t have much of a passion for the subgenre in general I’d say our feedback has been excellent! I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished and I’m proud of everyone involved for making it turn out the way it did.

How would you sum Shatter and Fall’s identity up in only three words?
Casey: Dark, aggressive, and beautiful. That’s the intent anyway!

How did the creation process happen for Shatter and Fall? Did you notice some changes, compared to the previous release?
Casey: The writing process for Shatter and Fall was more cumbersome than for the previous releases. I went into it with specific goals for evolving our sound but maintaining a certain vibe we had created on the previous EP while also trying to hit a certain running length for the label. There were several songs which leaned into a different direction than previous works and there were many old ideas which I was trying to adapt to fit that new direction.

What about the artwork, what were the guidelines and how do they fit with the music you created?
Casey: The album artwork was done by Travis Smith who did an excellent job. I took all of the photos for the cover art and inside booklet, etc. The trees on the front cover are from Bastrop, Texas, where in 2011 a wildfire took place which destroyed an ancient forest. I also took the photos of all the broken mirrors and Travis added his beautiful texturing to them. The album cover is meant to represent the themes of the album – fate, karma, consequence, and grief.

There are two guests on the album, Jake Jones from Æther Realm, and Tuomas Saukkonen from Wolfheart, Before the Dawn and Dawn of Solace. How did you reach them, and ask them to participate in the album?
Casey: I’ve known both of them for years actually, we opened for Æther Realm years ago when they stopped in Austin on tour and became friends with those guys ever since. We knew we wanted someone who had a higher vocal register for the track Mind is a Shadow so his voice made perfect sense! As for Tuomas we wanted him to be on our previous EP but we couldn’t make it work schedule-wise so this time around when Wolfheart came through town with Fleshgod Apocalypse we asked him in person if he would do some vocals for us and the rest is history. We’re very pleased with how both of these guest vocal performances turned out.   

The band’s music is a melting of airy melodies, massive vocals and a majestic, sometimes a bit aggressive basis, how do you find the balance between all those elements?
Casey: The balance is all within the song structures to me. It can be difficult finding that balance, one riff or section that doesn’t fit properly can throw the whole thing off in my opinion. Its really important to me that each song of ours has elements of emotion and melody but also has some kind of heaviness or grooving riffs to keep things exciting and energetic. I think I will always continue to experiment with different sounds and song structures though.

Where do you usually find your inspiration to create music?
Casey: I find my inspiration from many different places, nature, spirituality, and these days my own life experiences. I feel like there is always some story to be told. The biggest motivator is that I write the music which I want to hear for myself. 

Do you have a favorite song on this album? Or maybe the hardest one to achieve for the album?
Casey: I think my favorite song on the album might be Reverse the Code which is why I chose it as the first single. I’m just super pleased with how that song in particular turned out. The most difficult song to put together on the album might have been Spirit and Matter but not because there was anything specifically complex about it but simply because of my own indecisiveness about what direction I wanted the song to go. Ultimately I’m very happy with how that one came out too.

Do you think you improved yourself as a musician and songwriter with this new record?
Casey: I learned a lot by making this record and I think the entire process sharpened my songwriting skills and pushed me as a musician. I’d like to think I’ve gained some wisdom which I can apply moving forward to the next album.

I had the opportunity to see Hinayana on stage in Paris, during the Ultima Ratio Fest 2022, and I loved the experience. Do you have special memories from this show, or from the whole tour?
Casey: Paris last year was a very cool show, the architecture of the venue and surrounding buildings alone was something special. Me and Matt took a walk around the block after the gig and on our way out of town we saw the Eiffel Tower – our entire experience in Paris was very memorable and definitely a highlight of the tour. Its one of those cities you always read about but really have to experience in person to understand. 

A new European tour alongside Wolfheart and Before the Dawn is scheduled to begin really soon, how did you get prepared for this tour?
Casey: Preparing for the tour was quite stressful this time around. We had to make sure we were all solid on the new songs and we had very little time due to our schedules to rehearse them before beginning the tour. There were also lots of supplies we needed to get last second since we were responsible for running the merchandise for the whole tour package on this run. On the other hand we had done it once before the prior year so there was a bit of familiarity to the whole process of doing an international tour which made preparation smoother overall.

Are there any musicians or artists you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, or maybe more.
Casey: I would love to work with Anders Jacobsson from Draconian and cellist Raphael Weinroth Browne of Leprous. I’d love to do more collaborations, maybe even a side-project.

If you had to organize a concert for Shatter and Fall’s release show, which bands would you love to play with? I let you create a poster with Hinayana and three other bands!
Casey: The album release show was pretty awesome as it was! But if I had to choose a different lineup Katatonia, Swallow the Sun, and Hanging Garden might be three bands that would make a perfect release show with us. These are bands that would all be very complementary to our sound and allow us to stand out.

Last and funny question : which dish would you compare Hinayana’s music with?
Casey: Fantastic question, I like to think of Hinayana as some sort of dessert. Something that keeps bringing you back for more. Maybe some kind of rich, dark, chocolate cake with many layers…

That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Casey: Thank you for the questions! For those reading, be sure to check out our new album Shatter and Fall and be sure to follow us on social media where you can keep your eyes open for more tour announcements!

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