Friday, May 6, 2011

Helevorn - Forthcoming Displeasures (2010)

Innovation isn't always the key to excellence in the metal world. There is something to be said for simply doing right by your sound. For Helevorn, a six piece from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, it has been beneficial to master their craft, rather than try to reinvent the wheel. On "Forthcoming Displeasures," their third disc of material, the band take the death/doom structure to familiar places.

Delicate strumming and a simple bassline greet you, joined by a spoken passage, introduce "From Our Glorious Days." Booming kick drums and deep screams come from nowhere, tempered with sparse keyboard melodies and off-key, yet powerful clean vocals. The tempo is slow and deliberate, remaining at a constant. A quick bit of prose moves you into "Descent," a track which proves to be a chugging clinic. A single guitar riff cuts through the thunder, creating a path for well placed keys. The vocals are harsh in their delivery, but not overpowering, allowing room for melody and synths to cut the tension.

A beautiful piano piece leads the way in "Two Voices Surrounding," a track that is about as close to a ballad as you will find in this style. The vocals start clean, though touched with effects, before descending into darkness again. Simple guitars and drums keep the song moving forward without imposing. Suddenly, a deep, guttural scream arises, welcoming you to "To Bleed Not Suffer." The pace changes from a slow, somber beat, to a more aggressive one, but always ends up back where it started. Through all the time signature and instrument changes, there is always a pronounced, calculated drum tone, giving you perfect head nodding material.

"Revelations" kicks things into a higher gear, with guitar scales ripping through the bass, drum, vocal wall. Signature growls are revealed, syncing up precisely with kick drums blasts that are sure to rattle your rib cage. But beauty is ever present, with keyboards providing accents along the way. We fall back into the depressed abyss of  "Hopeless Truth," using spoken word to dim the lights. A guitar riff that almost seems to be one of light chimes in, before crashing down to earth in a heap of eerie keyboards, devilish screams and drum earthquakes.

Both "Yellow" and "On Shores (Of A Dying Sea)" are masterpieces of doom, creating a perfect ending to the album. They are instruction manuals on how to make music that is both dark and powerful. Guitar melodies, clean vocals, coarse screams, heavy drum fills and the light addition of cymbal all melt together in a profoundly simple way, before fading away to a piano outro.

Not every album needs to be a revelation. Bands try so hard to set themselves apart, but often in ways that detract from the music itself. The key to improving your standing in the music industry isn't always another vocalist, odd instrumentation or a half-baked concept album. Sometimes, the answer is as simple as perfecting what you already know how to do.


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