Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Thursday, December 20, 2018
Helgardh (review by MMB)
Helgardh is a U.S. band that will begin 2019 with the release of its album called Mallevs Maleficarvm, a work that highlights three components of its black metal: (1) professional sound quality, (2) high standard in individual performance, and (3) the art of writing songs that people can understand.
The sound quality when you listen on headphones comes across clearly. It's very nice to hear a strong bottom end by way of the bass in conjunction with the drums. Once you hear the bottom end, and you know that it is there, your ears can comfortably move on to pay attention to the guitars and the vocals. I find that there is a pleasant, professional booming quality to the recording. I wonder how it will sound in the car. Right now, just listening on headphones, it's a very enjoyable listen as a black metal recording based on the idea of having a full, professional-level sound.
In terms of individual performances, as it is often the case, subconsciously I seem to start with whether the drumming catches my attention or not. Does the drumming have those intangibles that make it a worthwhile listen? Hard work, effort and dedication are crucial. In this case the skills are undeniable; the blasting, the sense of rhythm, the speed, the dexterity, so on and so forth. That's a great starting point, but the experience that is communicated on the album is even more attractive, that the drumming is working in the service of the songs, which is something that the bass is also doing. The guitar work is a serious clinic on how to write headbanging black metal riffs. Essentially, the riffs are thrash-based and in a black metal framework it is difficult not to be moved by the quality of the guitars. The sense for melody and shredding is another strength here. You can tell that the musicians have years of experience and they have the desire to make something that is melodic and headbanging. The vocals seal the deal. You will know immediately that the art of black metal vocals is serious business when it is done right. Full, strong, upfront, passionate (and not the screechy kind) and you can make out quite a few of the words due to the good enunciation. The more I listen, the more I am beginning to understand what the vocalist is saying, even though I do not have the lyrics.
Finally, what good is individual skill or a good sound if the songs are incapable of holding your attention? My initial impression is that the band has a single-mindedness of purpose in black metal songwriting. Do not waste the time of your listeners. Do not mess around, period. When it comes to the songwriting, be a mean go getter about concentrating faithfully on the idea of headbanging, skilled music. It is a key principle that classic heavy metal, thrash, death and black metal is founded upon. What do you say with your music? Well, you better say it efficiently! We have standards here, and we have no patience for people who cannot write a good song to save their lives. All of this, every single iota of these ideas, are understood very well by Helgardh, and they deliver in convincing fashion.
A job done very well.
The album will consist of the following songs:
3.Shepherd of the Damned
4.In the Shadow of the World's Remains
7.The Aberration Scars
Biography: A dark and aggressive force is emerging out of the cold and arid atmosphere of the Appalachian Mountains. Helgardh is comprised of the unique blend of ardent death metal and baleful black metal. Founded by guitarist and vocalist Famine in 2009, they have since been on a quest to disperse their somber and sickening message. Spewing words of the Occult and Witchcraft underneath technically written composition and rugged melodies, this band will become perpetual. You have a slaying monster that’s spreading its putrid filth. They infested the Appalachian with their plague, and they’re descending from the rocks where they came to disperse their epidemic. This indomitable beast will surely poison your mind.
As European Black Metal progressed with each wave, the idea of Helgardh from the beginning was to create the next chapter for American Black Metal by utilizing the influences of modern death metal. After touring the East Coast region throughout 2011, the band recorded a 7 song EP titled ‘Ad Obscurus Aeternam’. Not completely satisfied with the sound, the band took time off and focused solely on writing the next release and making sure they had the sound they were looking for.
Armed with the new material in 2012 the band hit the road, sharing the stage with acts such as Deicide, Abigail Williams, Goatwhore, Jungle Rot and many more. At the end of 2012 Helgardh returned to the studio to record their debut full-length, ‘The Black Flame Descent’. With the only member change in the bands long history taking place in 2013, Helgardh acquired a new guitarist along with their new album and secured a deal with HPGD Productions. Following the signing they hit the road for a full coast-to-coast US tour with Danish Black Metallers Ajuna. Throughout this time Helgardh shared the stage with metal tyrants including Marduk, Moonspell, Sorcery and Inquisition.
The band began recording their sophomore release in 2015 at The Basement Recording Studio with Jamie King. The forthcoming album, titled Mallevs Maleficarvm, has guest appearances from Abysmal Dawn vocalist, Charles Elliot, and the voice of Dark Fortress, Morean.
The album is due out on Pagan Pride Records in early 2019, shortly after the 9 year anniversary of formation.