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Helsótt – Will and the Witch

Will and the Witch
by Horatiu Ghibu at 22 June 2022, 11:11 AM

Pagan metal turns to wild west for inspiration? That's exactly what HELSÓTT have in mind for us. By name, they sound Scandinavian, by sound: U S and A! These four guys from southern California seem like they have abducted AMON AMARTH and made them change the axes for lassos and the mead for whiskey. Massive guitar sound, flawless growling technique, this band masters the melodic death metal  hell pit. Very much into details, they have incorporated the elements needed to make this release authentic. Violin, piano and banjo… they've added every flavor!

The record starts, with no surprise for most fans of the genre, in full force with a pure melodic death metal powerful song. Things will go south (as in country music style) from the second one on. On the fourth track, entitled "Independence Night", they even get support from ex JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens with some mean banshee vocals. The real hit single is "Babylon Scarlett's Saloon". A catchy tune with the punch line being: drink, motherf****r, drink! The piano cuts in unexpectedly well between the death metal riffs and growls. "Spit Bucket Brawl" stands out as a bad ass track from the second half of the album. The banjo solo is a killer! Do they pull it off live also? Homework is so important even when you are a grown up and HELSÓTT are here to prove it.

They've studied the Norse death metal in detail (tempos, guitar tones, melodies, interpretation etc.)and added the American irreplaceable production. Smart move with "Navajo Crow". This song would either have ended up being the boring moment of this record or the unexpected most meaningful one. I tend to believe this is the song bringing us the whole essence of this material. Oh, I forget to mention it's not a metal tack! You get this native music combined with western guitars, choirs included. You also get the feeling at some points that this might be a shaman chanting. Maybe Sami from up northern Scandinavia. The last three tracks ditch the western flavor. Seems like the band wants to claim a place up front in the melodic death metal scene. And they are doing a pretty good job at it.

Real fun record to listen to! The good mix and production make a whole difference on "Will and the Witch". We're not dealing with a solid gold release here, but this a product that's very pleasant for the ears of a metalhead. A refreshing surprise form these California Vikings. Give it a spin and it will spin you!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. I'll Make Ya Famous
2. Southern Shine
3. Will and the Witch
4. Indepencence Night feat. Tim "Ripper" Owens
5. Skin Out
6. Babylon Scarlett's Saloon
7. Everything Hurts
8. Spit Bucket Brawl
9. Navajo Crow
10. Welded as One
11. Reap the Whirlwind
12. Regulators
Mark Dow – Guitar, Vocals
Eric Dow – Vocals
Cooper Dustman – Drums
Michael “Doc” Beaulieu – Bass
Record Label: M Theory Audio


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