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Helfró - Helfró Award winner

by Robert Amer at 18 June 2020, 5:53 AM

Iceland has been an infernal wellspring of up and coming black metal acts in recent years and HELFRÓ has just surfaced into the pool. The self-titled debut album is a relentless assault on the ears and gives the duo an impressionable introduction.

The record begins with “Afeitrun,” which begins with a tremolo invocation before bursting into a sonic hailstorm. From the get-go, superb musicianship of Ragnar and Símon is on display in fierce arrangements depicting the bleakness of the Icelandic winter. An enduring element throughout the album is the synchronized flourishes that serve as transitions between sections; they are very clean despite their grindcore-esque brutality. The duo also does a great job of varying song structures, preventing listeners from lulling into hypothermic slumbers that many artists induce with cookie-cutter song structures in black metal; they contain varied textures in the arrangements across different tempos spanning from blistering double bass and blastbeats to heavier mid-tempo sections. The duo also includes clean vocals in three songs in a complimentary way.

Gísli’s timbre evokes that of a pagan shaman as he sings the noble-sounding melodies in “Ávöxtur Af Rotnu Tré,” “Hin Forboðna Alsæla,” and “Katrín”. These clean vocals contrast from the guttural, dual-vocal attack of Ragnar and Símon, which are layered at several times throughout the album. Símon utilizes a complete, expressive pallet in his guitar performances, making bleak and ferocious sonic brush strokes in great taste, incorporating leads, tremolos, and chords of different qualities across different registers in ever-fresh permutations throughout. Ragnar also excels in his performances on the drums, maintaining a powerful presence, but always complementing the other instruments and never drawing attention away from the total sound.

HELFRÓ makes a seismic debut in their self-titled album. There isn’t a single weak track on the album, and the duo presents an aesthetically-pleasing panoramic of brutal desolation in every soundscape. It would be great to be able to see this project perform live sometime. This stuff needs to be experienced.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Afeitrun
2. Ávöxtur af rotnu tré
3. Eldhjarta
4. Þrátt fyrir brennandi vilja
5. Þegn hinna stundlegu harma
6. Hin forboðna alsæla
7. Katrín
8. Musteri agans
Ragnar S - Composition, Drums, Vocals
Símon Þ - Arrangements, Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Gísli S - Clean Vocals
Record Label: Season Of Mist


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Edited 27 November 2022

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