Huis | Neither In Heaven
Label: Unicorn Digital Inc.
Release Year: 2016
Country : Quebec, Canada
Genre : Progressive Rock
Sylvain Descôteaux – Vocals, Keyboards
Michel St-Père – Guitars
Michel Joncas – Bass, Taurus Bass Pedals
William Régnier – Drums, Percussions
Johnny Maz – Keyboards
Huis (“home doors” in french, and “house” in dutch) . This is a very appropriate name for the band that comes out of Montreal, Quebec Canada. Their beautiful atmospheres and great rhythm sections make you feel right at home with their music and compositions. Their 2016 release Neither In Heaven is a solid confirmation of how music can more than just move a person but make them feel at home within the album or project.
Coming off the heals of their previous album of 2014 Despite Guardian Angels, the band has returned with a much more atmospheric and darker composition that is Neither In Heaven. Huis’ Neither In Heaven is a wonderful cocktail of the dark portions of Rush’s Caress Of Steel , Hemispheres and 2112 meets Rush’s Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves.with a slight Pink Floydian flavoured atmosphere. For a band that appears as neo progressive on the surface, Huis certainly has a whole other side that is out right dark and heavy. The heavier progressions hit you by surprise and force more involvement from the listener. The listener is enveloped in between progressive atmospheres, warm rhythm sections and heavy almost metal like guitars in certain areas throughout Neither In Heaven.
The first track, the self titled track Neither In Heaven, begins as a heavy brooding piano passage almost liken that of dark chamber music. it is the perfect beginning for the album as it is the first of a few instrumentals. Neither In Heaven opens its namesake up well in the arrangement before track two Synesthesia.
Synesthesia begins with a heavy bass/drum rhythm section before the darker yet neo progressive elements of the keyboards and guitars come into play. Sylvain Descôteaux – Vocals, Keyboards brings such a warm and dark sound to the vocals. His vocals are very unique and he definitely has carved out his own harmony and sound. The bands backing vocals perfectly accompany the lead vocal on this one. This track also has such a quality to draw in the listener for the duration of the rest of the album with various keyboard, acoustic guitars and rhythmic sections interchanging. The audience has no time to get bored. The guitar solos and keyboards are just as important of a instrumental harmony as the vocals are.
Insane begins with some serious heavy bass/drum rhythm section that Michel St-Père – Guitars perfectly lays back in harmony with the rhythm section. Insane is one of those instrumentals that remind me a lot of Rush’s YYZ or Enchant’s Progtology. Insane continues with the beautiful atmospheres created on the keyboards.
Even Angels Sometimes Fall is opened with the clean synth atmospheres along with the very deep bass and drums lock in step. The guitars take on a very Pink Floyd Momentary Lapse Of Reason vibe. Michel St-Père – Guitars has a heavy David Gilmore style about him. Johnny Maz – Keyboards is like a Richard Wright to Huis as a band collective.
Entering The Gallery begins with the effect of a door opening before going into a beautiful keyboard passage. This is soon followed by a very straight forward hard driving progressive hard rock sound that is almost symphonic. Very warm vocals come into play and this track takes your mind on a 3:41 mini adventure. This track is arranged in such a way on Neither In Heaven that it is almost like turning the album over to another more heavy darker side.
The Man On The Hill explodes into a almost progressive metal passage in a style that Dream Theater used on Falling Into Infinity with a track like Burning My Soul. Make no mistake here Huis still stay on point with their own unique sound despite the comparison there. This one has some very heavy handed progressions and time signatures to perfectly match the dark lyrical content. William Régnier – Drums, Percussions & Michel Joncas – Bass, Taurus Bass Pedals totally stand out as the backbone on this track with poise and brilliant musicianship. This reminds me a lot like a progressive version of Dokken’s The Hunter. It has a very dark conclusion as well.
The Red Gypsy opens with the guitar in a almost Latin progression before it is met by the keyboard and warm vocal. About the 1:00 mark it goes the way of a more traditional progressive song yet leaving heavy Latin style progression passages. The Red Gypsy also sees the band really let it loose almost in a heavy progressive AOR vibe with the various vocal and instrumental breaks interchanging in and out of one another.
Memories starts out with a beautiful piano and vocal harmony. The lyrical content is very introspective and reflective in nature. The synth style keyboards and piano make for a perfect partner for the acoustical guitar in the intro. The track then takes on a more ballad style song. A closer listen and the audience can easily be swept away into another level of listening experience. I had a very powerful experience with Memories myself.
I Held begin with some thick lush melodies of instrumental atmospheres compounded with almost choral like vocal harmonies. Soon followed by that is a straight away progressive rock instrumental section. There are some very creative unusual but contemporary time signatures that border like psychedelic progressions.
Nor On Earth opens up with a very ethereal style progression. Soon there is a warm neo progressive vibe about it. The guitar tracks and keyboards exchange in between layers. The vocals are very warm. This is arranged perfectly on the album as the last track. Nor On Earth has a little bit of every element that every track had before it on Neither In Heaven. Nor On Earth is also one of those tracks that allow for the listener to really absorb what they just experienced on the album itself. In between various time signatures it gives the track and ultimately the entire album time to breathe.
To be candid Huis’ Neither In Heaven really was a surprise to me. I had some preconceived notions of this just being just another neo progressive album. I was wrong Huis has so much depth that Neither In Heaven is a genuine modern masterpiece. Neither In Heaven is a heavy innovator of the evolution of progressive rock. This gets 4.5/5 for genuine depth with honesty.