Helhorse

Oh Death

Written by: AP on 28/09/2013 00:02:05

It has been a long time coming, but late this summer, by penning a signature with Mighty Music, Helhorse were at last given the green light to release their sophomore album, entitled "Oh Death" - an effort which was effectively finished over a year ago. Always the trusty purveyors of jovial, sludgy metal'n'roll and scintillating live performances, Helhorse expose another side of themselves through the record; a dark and more atmospheric effort than its predecessor "Of Wolves and Vultures".

Still, the effort opens erruptively with a duo of groovy, blues rock tinged bangers in "Fuck Art, Let's Kill", which bears a certain resemblance to Clutch and "Deliverance"-era Corrosion of Conformity in its heavy, yet uplifting lead riff and almost jubilant, matter-of-fact vocal/lyrical approach; and "Hell Hath No Fury", which alternates between a mid-paced hammer-on/pull-off riff characteristic of stoner rock (sounding, in fact, sort of like Sleep on speed) and an infectiously memorable chorus driven by double-pedals, before collapsing into a properly stoning bridge illuminated by the band's now-trademark Hammond organ, busting out a soulful wah-wah solo, and concluding in a repeat of the chorus. With the melancholic Rhodes notes in the following "The Seams of Life", however, Helhorse begin to unwrap their maturity as musicians and songsmiths with a doom laden slower piece that sounds like some sort of perverse mixture of grunge and Crowbar/Kingdom of Sorrow-esque sludge. This song is reflective of Helhorse's desire to be conceived not just as a fun band, but also as a serious, and not to mention ambitious band, and just the first taste ahead of the monolithic "Death Comes to the Sleeping" - a track which sees the band, and especially lead vocalist Mikkel Wad Larsen, grasp at true grandeur. Slow-burning, brooding and powerful, it emerges as the absolute highlight of "Oh Death", which, in general, distinguishes itself through unwavering consistency.

There isn't a song on this thing I'm inclined to speed through without batting an eyelash, whether it be the fuzzy, stoning groove of "Red Eye" or "And His Name is Death"; the sleazy innuendos of the festive "Carnal Rage"; the introspective and deeply personal, Alice in Chains-reminiscent grunge-doom of "Climb Through Fire"; or the Sabbath worship of concluding piece "Scorch the Earth". And that impression probably stems at least partially from the dynamics of the album, both in the macrocosmic sense that slower picks succeed pairs of ragers and vice versa, and in the microcosmic sense that the songs themselves never deploy sellout tools to endear the listener. I am particularly fond of the vocal duels and duettos between Mr. Larsen, who handles the cleaner singing, howls and deep growls, and keyboardist Aske Kristiansen, who employs a more frenetic, deranged type of scream that gives "Oh Death" a welcome degree of unhingedness; but the diversity of Stephan C. Krabsen and Jakob Møgelvang's riff industry, the warm and present bass licks of Søren Nybo Hansen, and the textured drumming of Jesper Bergstedt each provide their own touches of ingenuity to an album that is likely to emerge as one of the best Danish metal albums of 2013.

But above all I am astonished by the international-calibre quality of the beast, as without prior familiarity with the band, one could be forgiven for guessing Helhorse to originate from some swamp in Georgia and Mississippi, where tunes like these are considered indigenous music. "Oh Death" is an album which beckons me to return, time and time again; and an album which can be approached both arbitrarily (by virtue of the strength of its individual songs) and as a single, conceptually linked work of art (most of the songs explore Death from various perspectives). It is heavy, yet ridiculously catchy; and it rests on a multi-faceted foundation of influences that ensures good catering whether you're into blues rock, stoner rock/metal, grunge or doom.

8

Download: Hell Hath No Fury, The Carnal Rage, Red Eye, Death Comes to the Sleeping, And His Name Is Death, Scorch the Earth
For the fans of: Corrosion of Conformity, Down, Kingdom of Sorrow, Orange Goblin
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.09.2013
Mighty Music

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