Dubbing themselves the fitting description of “dark electronic folk,” Hem Netjer makes their official album debut with the release of The Song of Trees. Working with familiar Vancouver company Jason Corbett of ACTORS and Scott Fox of iVardensphere, the trio brings a blend of folk sounds, electronic arrangements, and unique vocal stylings that had been hinted at in previous singles, now coming full circle on the album. The most identifiable element of Hem Netjer’s music thus far has been the presence of vocalist Jesse Ellytt utilizing traditional Tuvan throat singing throughout the majority of the band’s tracks, whether as a lead vocal, support, or simply for ambience. The opening “Void” sets the tone for the record, showcasing the dichotomy between Ellytt’s throat singing and lead vocalist Raven Rissey’s powerful, haunting voice. The percussion and instrumentation throughout the record is also chosen very intentionally, often providing the listener an immersive experience that invokes feelings of some sort of ritual.
While the production choices on The Song of Trees are clearly by design, there are times when it feels like the vocals stand out almost too much over the rest of the production. It’s clear that both vocalists bring something very special to the table and are absolutely the signature sound of the band, but it’s unfortunate that the rest of the unique instrumentation doesn’t stand as prominently throughout the album. Hem Netjer calls The Song of Trees a “musical journey through the five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and void,” and tracks like “Connect,” “Freedom,” “Eldur,” “Salt and Tears,” and “Void” thematically correspond with each element, respectively. The record is indeed reflective of a journey – the diversity in the sounds and unconventional blend of styles, when combined with the strong Pagan themes, creates a feeling of being transported away to somewhere dark and different. It may not be the most perfect representation of the band’s vision, but The Song of Trees is a solid debut release and does plenty to stir the spirits within.