24 February 2012
From the off, I fully expected this to be a solid, yet not particularly exciting, fairly standard black metal album. I based this on the fact that Hellsaw have produced a few standard black metal albums, and judging by the corpsepaint, album art and song titles, this is no massive departure. I expected a beans-on-toast album. I like beans on toast, it’s good. But I’d never order it at a restaurant.
But Hellsaw have kicked their beans on toast up a notch. From the first, creepy riff and almost pantomimish delivery vocals (If lines like “It’s so dark…my heart is POUNDING!” don’t raise a wry smile, you may be a bit too troo kvlt for this review) there is some really interesting stuff going on here. Yes, a lot of the album are standard discordant guitar / blastbeat / shrieking combo that is pretty average, but on nearly every song there is something to get your teeth into.
These range from some really, really catchy guitar work – that doesn’t sacrifice atmosphere or intensity to creepy as hell acoustic bits, doomy slowness and the occasional bit of choir vocals. On standout track, ‘Doom Pervades Nightmares’, there are sections that sound like old school European black metal meets the guitar-as-orchestra new wave of american black metal sound, which works unsurprisingly well. This then segues into a rather pretty acoustic outro. As if to make up for it, the next track kicks in as raw and riffy as possible. Vocally there isn’t much variety, but singer Aries does sound raw and ragged, as black metal should be. The production is pretty spot on – you can hear what’s going on from everything, without it being polished or Pro-Tooled to hell.
Listen to ‘The Devil is calling my name’ by Hellsaw:
It’s a shame that Hellsaw go back to the standard black metal template – the more they move away from it and mess about with tempo and texture the better they sound – on the slow, dirge of the title track, they out-doom most black/doom bands, and when turning up the riffing, they sound like a great black/thrash band. The transitions between acoustic and full on black metal are spot on crowd pleasers. If they keep up the experimentation their next album will be amazing.
So – beans on toast? Yes, but with a side of pretty much everything else. Tasty!
Sounds Like: Shining, Watain
Standout Tracks: Doom Pervades Nightmares, Trist, Silence