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Helevorn : Forthcoming Displeasures

Helevorn is a Spanish band. If you look at their certificate, you'll see that they have been around for a little more than ten years, but still, Forthcoming Displeasures is only their second full-length now available via BadMoodMan Music (Solitude Productions). I guess the Spaniards like to take their sweet little time when it comes to releasing music, but the final result seems to prove them right in honing their skills to deliver something that is not simply average but of real interest.

Gothic Doom Metal. That’s what you see them labelled on various sites but although there is some truth in it, it still does not encompass the whole spectrum of Helevorn’s music. All for the better if you ask me. The combination of those two words, Gothic and Doom, usually makes me suspicious: I tend to assume I’m going to have to listen to some insipid and keyboards-ridden cheesy music and/or (most often ‘and’) cheesier female vocals surfing the waves of suspicious acts’ celebrities like Evanescence or HIM… Brrr… gives me the shivers.

Helevorn is, I guess, somehow Gothic in the way they deal with lyrical themes such as despair, abandon and the likes and have developed an almost pop-ish approach in their use of clean vocals. Clean vocals that are brilliantly rendered by singer Josep Brunet and are somehow reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan (ouch, promise, no more swearwords). In those songs where clean vocals are more prominent (‘From Our Glorious Days’ or ‘On Shores (Of A Dying Sea)’), it even feels like the main inspiration would be the ballad-inclined Metallica from the Black Album's era.

Is that sexy? Well, yes, I suppose it is if you’re prone to those kinds of feelings. But it’s not my cup of tea yet and it takes a little more to make me fully content with a “Doom” album. The best part of Helevorn’s music is when and where they indulge in Doom Death and this what makes this record interesting to me.

Not only Josep Brunet is a skilled “clean” vocalist but the man can growl. And he does it almost flawlessly. When the music really starts kicking in the Doom Death area, you’d feel transported back in 1993 when the words "The Peaceville Three" still meant something (though nobody would even name them that way back then but that’s another story). The glorious era of Doom Death remembered three names but I always felt there could have been a fourth joining their ranks: I guess since they weren't "Peaceville" but rather "Adipocere", Celestial Season never made it to the top.

Helevorn, when it dwells in the lowest pits of the beautiful sordidness of Doom Death, sounds very much like the Dutchmen of Celestial Season. Not like the more known Stoner facet of the band but rather like their first album Forever Scarlet Passion. I believe this is the perfect reference to Helevorn's music, but unfortunately I'm also aware of how little that Forever Scarlet Passion may be known even amongst Doom lovers. Should you find the reference too cryptic, let's just picture an even more light-hearted and elegant version of My Dying Bride in their prime. The tracks ‘Descent’ or ‘To Bleed Not To Suffer’, among others, are perfect illustrations of this.

This makes for a rather interesting record. Sure, if you’re looking for something highly original or ground-breaking, Forthcoming Displeasures will sound rather well-named (pun intended!) but who said that each and every release had to be bring something “newer”? My only concern, and a light one, is about the production of the record which is very “clean”. Everything sounds just too flawless to be true. I can only assume that this was intended and helps to build strong powerful songs but somehow I believe this whole digital era takes some of the spirit away from the music and may be difficult to reproduce accurately when played live.

I doubt that Helevorn’s second full-length will pass into history as a genre landmark but nonetheless it is a solid record that will please older and newer fan of the Doom Death scene. Definitely a recording that you should consider acquiring should you have the chance to do so and a band worth following in the next few years.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. From Our Glorious Days
2. Descent
3. Two Voices Surrounding
4. To Bleed not to Suffer
5. Revelations
6. Hopeless Truth
7. Yellow
8. On Shores (Of a Dying Sea)

Duration : Approx. 53 minutes

Visit the Helevorn bandpage.

Reviewed on 14-05-2010 by Frédéric Cerfvol
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