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Helsott - Slaves and Gods

Helsott
Slaves and Gods
by Chris Hawkins at 19 November 2018, 3:28 PM

Southern California would probably be my last guess as the home of HELSOTT.  Their name means “Fatal Illness” in Old Norse and the band maintains a vibe of ancient Pagan times.  The band formed in 2010 and “Slaves and Gods” is their second album.  They seek to extend Pagan and Folk elements to counter balance a love of American Metal.

The title track begins the album with a familiar sound steeped in late 90s Extreme Metal.  A melodic tremolo-picked riff frames the song and one is reminded of AMON AMARTH when the vocals arrive.  In the chorus, the sound is almost oppressive with multiple vocal tracks over palm-muted guitar parts.  The breakdown in the latter part of the song shows a brutality not present in other moments.   There is perhaps nothing more brutal that the smell conjured from track four’s, “Whiskey Breath,” especially when smelling one’s own.  Nimble palm-muting and double-bass work frame this shorter song.

Things start to take a different turn on the fifth track, “Eye of the Past”.  It features a clean vocal performance over piano and hyperactive bass guitar.  Against the low guttural vocals presented, though, the cleans sound thin, puny even.  A stark contrast to this is the following track, “Trollskald,” one of the album’s more aggressive songs.  This is achieved with blasts and a MORBID ANGEL-inspired riff that simply crushes.  When going for brutality, the band nails it, but when held against the other elements, the more Folk and melodic moments sound lacking and uninspiring.  The review would be incomplete were it not to mention the band’s cover of TOM PETTY’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” which ends the album.  This is heavy on the synths, but still a heavier take overall on the Classic Rock staple.  It is always a pleasure to hear non-Metal songs as covered by Metal bands.

The band does an admirable job of combining beauty and darkness.  Plenty of more dirty, raw parts coexist with Progressive and Melodeath elements.  One is taken down a path decorated with patches of OPETH, old CHILDREN OF BODOM, and KATATONIA.  The problem, though, is that the band seem to be extending themselves in multiple directions, effect paying homage to all their heroes yet lacking one unifying theme.  For a second album, though, it is not a bad effort, yet it eludes a sound that would propel them to the top of the hep of newer acts.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Slaves and Gods
2. The Coward’s Curse
3. Winter Smells Like Death
4. Whiskey Breath
5. Eye of the Past
6. Trollskald
7. Zep Tepi
8. Return Hyperborea
9. Honour Thy Vaklyrie
10. Runnin’ Down a Dream
Lineup:
Cooper Dustman- Drums, Vocals
Steph Robinson– Orchestration, Vocals
Eric Dow – Vocals
Mark Down – Guitar, Bass
Record Label: M-Theory Audio
     


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Edited 15 October 2019
 

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