Lion Shepherd: Hiraeth

Far-off places (and prog metal angst) on the Polish duo’s debut.

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They piqued interest while on tour with fellow Polish proggers Riverside. Now the richly varied world of Lion Shepherd – an ambitious new project embracing film, design and even fashion – is brought to life on record with Hiraeth.

Co-founders Kamil Haidar and Mateusz Owczarek have a chunky breadth of world music experience between them, explaining the international elements here. Such a spread of ingredients might have led to a disparate-sounding effort, but the searing, melodic guitar at work means Hiraeth still rocks comfortably, and still works as a cohesive whole. It’s a moody, potent mix of post-rock and prog metal, spiced up with Middle Eastern colours and deep, trancey layers. Heavy Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree resonates in the chops of Brave New World, mingled with delicate post-prog ambience and world music touches. Elsewhere, hints of Anathema crop up in the likes of Lights Out, while Infidel Act Of Love offers elegant Eastern mystique. By the time you hit the hypnotic Smell Of War, you’ll question whether this really came from Poland rather than, say, Israel. An Aladdin’s cave of smoke and sparkle, by turns brooding and uplifting.