The Greek dark ambient / industrial act Conjecture has returned with the new album Hydra". Here on his fifth album, first for the Zoharum label, Vasilis Angelopoulos (also an avant-garde visual artist) pays homage to Greek mythology. Every track and the album itself, is titled after more or lesser known mythic creatures and tells its own story. Thus, leading the listeners imagination to visualize these tales with the music serving as a soundtrack. All these creatures are also constellations in the universe with these names. A second common denominator is that most siblings are from the same mother. Another commonality we will see is that Hercules killed them. In art, these monsters are often used symbolically to show something terrifying or something scientific, such as a virus or some extreme political ideology.

 First up is the title track "Hydra", named after the serpentine water monster, killed by Hercules according to Greek mythology. A mysterious atmosphere is built here that gradually builds up forming an ambient ritualistic piece of music with industrial and cinematic flairs. Like on the entire album, delicate textures of sound are woven together masterfully creating an otherworldly soundscape. The next track "Cerberus", the name of a multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving, is another dark track with a nocturnal and adventurous feel to it. One that would make this an excellent soundtrack to a related story themed video game. The dronelike "Chimera" that follows, has a more frightful mood, as the creature it is named after. A fire-breathing female monster resembling a lion in the forepart, a goat in the middle, and a dragon behind. Here the soft soundscapes are interrupted by telephone beeps and industrial percussion. Next is "Ladon", the serpent-like dragon that twined and twisted around the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides and guarded the golden apples. Another creature that was killed with a bow and arrow by Heracles. Here musically the dark ambience is chilling, where the soft sonic droning is only escorted by intermediate hissing and thumping sounds.

 The tension starts to build even more on "Atlas", the Titan condemned to hold up the celestial heavens or sky for eternity. On this track, which could easily be credited as the album’s standout, a beat is incorporated into the piece, with the metallic breaks highlighting the rhythm, creating a hypnotic kind of mantra with its industrial percussion. While on "Orthrus", the two-headed dog that guarded Geryon's cattle and was also killed by Heracles, continues in the same vein but here Vasilis also adds some machinery sounds in the mix. Same on "Centaur", another creature from Greek mythology which has the upper body of a human and the lower body and legs of a horse, but here a synth melodic theme runs through it making it one of the most memorable tracks on the album. Where ancient myth and post apocalyptic industrial elements are combined, forming a solid piece of work that serves the general concept. For the first time we hear some distorted vocals on "Greae", who were the three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth among them. The last track "Cycnus", a bloodthirsty and cruel man who killed all of his guests until he was slain by Heracles, is a soothing ambient piece that features also Kostas Papadimitriou on trumpet, giving this amazing album the closure, it deserves.

 The CD edition of 300 copies comes in 6 panel digipack with the artwork photography and layout provided by Vaia Pilafa, of the installation sculpture "Hydra" by Vasilis Angelopoulos.


Review by Nick Drivas