Austin melodic death/doom dawnbringers Hinayana has experienced quite a transformation since 2014’s Endless demo. Once a solo project from founding multi-instrumentalist Casey Hurd, Hinayana has since blossomed into a full band signed to Napalm Records. Hinayana’s metamorphosis is fitting considering the origin of the band’s name, a sanskrit term with a long association with Buddhism. While definitions vary, the term describes the pursuit of greater enlightenment achieved through perseverance. The upcoming Death of the Cosmic EP debuts the expanded lineup, along with some tasteful guest appearances. Decibel Magazine has an exclusive stream of the EP before its release from Napalm Records on August 28th.
Death of the Cosmic focuses on humanity’s self-destruction, including modern manufacturing and construction’s assault on nature. The title track begins with a riff that feels like birds chirping over incoming distortion. The densely layered song retains an anchor of vocal extremity while synths and the aforementioned delicate melodies soar above the glacial heaviness. In “Cold Conception,” the evocative horsehead fiddle of Tengger Cavalry’s tragically departed Nature Ganganbaigal haunts the listener atop drummer Daniel Vieira’s blasts. In instrumental reprieve “Yet Here I Wait Forever,” keyboardist Michael Anstice helps create the aural imagery of vines and weeds slowly seizing a skyscraper. Hanging Garden’s Toni Toivonen joins the band during “In Sacred Delusion” as the tracks crawls toward deeper introspection. Closer “Pitch Black Noise” re-records Hurd’s solo version of the Endless song, now with his entire band joining him in the void. Fans of Finnish melodic doom will want to live in the lush, cohesive soundscapes of Death of the Cosmic, and keep their eyes and ears on the horizon for more from Hinayana.
Stream Hinayana’s Death of the Cosmic below before the album’s released on August 28th. Mourn our natural landscape’s brutalist takeover and press play NOW.
Decibel Magazine interview with Hinayana founder Casey Hurd
Death of the Cosmic is a stunning, dynamic release. Were there any changes to your sound or songwriting you wanted to achieve for Hinayana after your Order Divine LP?
Casey Hurd: First of all, thank you for the kind words! Yes, I would definitely say that after the release of Order Divine I was looking to make some changes and hopefully improve upon the songwriting from that album to the EP. I wanted to create more dynamic songs, with more diversity between riffs and passages. We also wanted to create songs that were more unique in general to really try and carve out more of an identity for the band’s sound. Another priority this time around was improving the production value, so we spent more time recording and mixing in the studio, and I changed some things in my own recording process for the parts we self-produced.
Is there a prevalent lyrical theme that unites most of this EP’s songs?
CH: The general theme that pervades the entire EP is one of man’s self-destruction. The EP is about how we are severing our connection with the divine, spiritual force in the universe, destroying the beauty of nature upon this earth and building a brutalist hellscape in its place. There’s a sense of hopelessness but also acceptance in the lyrics that perhaps reflects my own attitude.
Death of the Cosmic was mastered by Juho Raiha (Swallow the Sun). What made him the best choice for your record?
CH: We had met Juho back in 2018 when he was touring with Wolfheart as their guitarist. We shared the stage with them on their Austin, TX date and we got to hang with the band afterwards. He was super friendly and encouraging about our music/set and it was awesome to meet someone who had worked on so many of my favorite bands and projects from Tuomas Saukkonen – which ended up being why we chose to work with him, knowing his involvement in making so many of those albums sound so heavy and aggressive in similar styles.
It must have been impactful to listen to Nature Ganganbaiga’s performance over and over during mixing after he tragically passed. Has his contribution changed how the song feels to you now?
CH: Absolutely. The song was originally written without his parts and for a period of time I was used to hearing it that way. After we had settled on him playing his horsehead fiddle (Morin Khuur) but before he had recorded his parts, I couldn’t help but imagine how the instrument might sound in the song, having my own idea of how the parts would (or should) go. The coolest thing about his contribution to the track was how he took the reins in writing his own parts and elevated it in ways I couldn’t think of. He truly was an incredible musician and I can’t imagine the song without his playing now. We entered the studio for mixing shortly after we were all shaken by his passing and one thing I’ll always remember was the heavy feeling we all had listening to the playback his individual parts in the studio.
Although Hinayana started as a solo project, did you always picture it as a more collaborative collective like your current lineup?
CH: Fairly quickly after I released the first demo for the band back in 2014 I knew I wanted to have it be a collaborative effort with other band members, taking it to the stage and playing live. I was mainly encouraged by the positive feedback it received online in the beginning. At first, I wasn’t so sure because the problem for me at that point was finding other musicians in the area who shared the same vision for a band, which was really the reason for it being a sort of solo project in the beginning. Today I couldn’t be happier with the current lineup of incredible musicians in the band and their contributions.
The pandemic really challenged most of our daily priorities and entitlements. Considering the meaning of the band’s name, is there any form of enlightenment you’ve experienced during the pandemic?
CH: I think something I’d say I’ve learned over the last 6 months or so regarding the pandemic is to see the good in everything. While things this year hadn’t turned out like ANY of us had hoped for with the complete absence of live music as a whole, I know there is some amazing art and music being created in bedrooms and studios all over the world right now. That in itself is inspiring to me. Not to mention that we were able to sign with Napalm Records this year and finally release our EP which we had been holding onto for nearly a year. So there is always something to be positive about, even if things don’t go as planned and that you might suffer along the way.
What plans do you have for Hinayana for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
CH: Currently we are working on ideas for mostly online content to fill out the rest of the year in the absence of live shows. We’re also in the middle of writing new material for a full-length album, which I’d say is taking up most of our extra time. We’d like to push the band’s sound further, bringing in guest musicians again and doing more collaborations. As far as plans for 2021, the main thing we’re crossing our fingers for is the ability to hit the road and tour. We can’t wait to play the new songs live and see our fans again. Here’s hoping for 2021!