Before anything, I wanted to make a quick research on what “hinayana” meant. First of all, it’s taken from Buddhism, in which it means “small vehicle”, and here’s a small quote about it, taken straight from Wikipedia:
The Small Vehicle is based on becoming aware of the fact that all we experience in samsara is marked by suffering. Being aware of this engenders the will to rid ourselves of this suffering, to liberate ourselves on an individual level, and to attain happiness. We are moved by our own interest. Renunciation and perseverance allow us to attain our goal.
So now, we can imagine what Hinayana‘s, the band’s, music will sound like. With that name, I sort of imagined it being close to Cynic, the modern-day hippies of progressive metal. And I wasn’t that far off…
Although belonging to two different genres, progressive metal (but more recently rock) and death metal, Hinayana puts a strong importance on melody and atmosphere rather than playing fast and chugging low, which is the reason why I think they sound kinda like Cynic. But the comparison stops there: they rely almost exclusively on death growls while Cynic has been getting farther and farther from those, and they have next to no progressive element in their music.
The melody lines are often repeated over and over again over a matching chord and rhythm, which brings up the atmospheric sound and makes you feel engulfed in the music; there’s always something around you in every direction: the bass below, the rhythm guitar around, and the lead guitars above you (and the drums all around), creating some sort of sphere which is, in a strange way, soothing.
Hinayana are definitely not there to challenge you musically, or to disturb you in any way, but rather to comfort you where you are. Well, at least, that’s my point of view, from my experience. However, it feels like more than a coincidence that a band with a name borrowed from Buddhism, that encourages spiritual liberation by being aware that all we experience in samsara is marked by suffering, chooses death metal (aka musical suffering) to soothe and comfort us (aka spiritual liberation).
Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but the point where I felt that the strongest was in the song Taken.
Still, keep in mind this is a demo! That is really outstanding, as I would not have questioned it further if it was an EP or a full release considering its running length of around 30 minutes, and the quality of the recording. It’s tight, it’s well-written, and the production is alright, on par with a good black metal production.
However, the lack of challenge and innovation makes this record run a bit long to my tastes. I’m the prog, experimental, boundaries-pushing kind of guy, so I need more mental excitement, and this record is low on that. I can appreciate its beauty and recommend it to those of you who feel compelled by the music in the embed above, or by the words I’ve written. Hinayana is definitely a band I’ll be keeping an eye on.