Breaking the Spell by Dark Himaya

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1. Distraction
2. Subtle Knife
3. Isadora
4. False Hope
5. Silent Protest
6. Bia
7. Cursed Muse
8. Papercut in Your Eye
9. My Personal Demon
10. Across Morpheus Palm
11. Running to Lust

Ivy, Aileen, Alejandro and Keith introduce themselves as a guide throughout our journey through the soundscapes of Himaya. ‘Breaking the Spell’ delivers a sound laced with ambient guitars and an occasional cascading piano. Unfortunately after the first two or three tracks, listeners can inevitably hear a monotonous constant. The soaring vocals we have come to expect, with few surprising experiments or change in chord progression or melody along the way. While there are moments of beauty, like the use of the cascading piano, and atmospheric synth sounds, we only begin to find variety progressing closer to the concluding tracks of the album.

Ivy and Aileen’s skyward vocals suit the album’s obsession with the emotional frustration and devastation of humanity, ripe with romantically longing tunes like the gorgeous ballad “Running to lust” (Track 11), where her breathy, passionate vocals awaken. 3/4 of ‘Breaking the Spell’ feature the overly-heavy bass smothering the strings for a more hard rock sound, shoving the more aesthetic elements of the music into the background.

The alluring harmonizing vocals hang over the rubbery thicket of guitars on False Hope but the band’s attempt to pretty up “Subtle Knife” nearly derails the track, with the grumbling bass groove sounding great before they clumsily toss in a bit of unnecessary piano in the hook of what is otherwise an invigorating listen.

For a more accurate representation of what Dark Himaya can really provide, I’d recommend “Across Morpheus Palm” (Track 10), “Running to Lust”, “Silent Protest” (Track 5) and Isadora (Track 3). In “Silent Protest” we can still hear their seemingly signature bass line and their prevalence of these effects that ginger up the piece, in “Across Morpheus Palm” and “Running to Lust” we can hear the allure of Amy Lee-esque vocals against elegiac lyrics and dulcet piano accompaniment, while “Isadora” is very much a song of its own, with the same piano melody closing and opening the book to our exploration, and everything in between narrating the story of Isadora.

I’m excited to see what Dark Himaya has in store for us next. Will they stick to their repeated formula? Or will they start to put these dominating vocals against a stronger instrumentation? Perhaps traces of orchestral instruments would do the trick.

– Chloe Cheng

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