Somewhere beyond the Post-Metal highway, floating on undulating oceanic waves, in the eye of a storm the true nature of Helve´s debut album unfolds. It does so with fifty sublime minutes of melodic heavy, dense music and surging glissading crescendos.
The dark and doomy aspects of Post-Metal are wonderfully mixed with the higher pitches of yearning Post-Rock timbre. Drifting effortlessly in and out of different moods on each track. They are brave musicians to take on a genre with heavyweight bands they are bound to be compared to. And Helve do it with bravura, pouring their music through tracks that last around 10 minutes or more.
As the first track unfolds, their music draws you in slowly and then at once. ”Dark Clouds” opens gently with somber, soft clean guitar strings repeating a melodic theme, softly strumming guitar, idle drums, a low-end bass and vocalizing which fades away before distorted guitars melt with the bass and drums into a heavy dense Post-Metal soundscape with hoarse struggling vocals. In the distorted musical stream, melodic themes are formed in the layers. There are subtle changes in the flow and it turns into heavy doom-laden chugging bass and drums dragging the guitars along as they form and keep the melodic theme. You get an undulating and flowing sense as you drift with the distorted music.
A couple of weeks ago, we premiered the second song on the album, ”Guns Heal the Sick”. And as you might have heard, that song also has this very varied take on the genre as it opens with a harsh repeating riff, and the grooves from the bass rumble along with the drums as the coarse vocals scream far in the sound. The vocal melody comes out as it often does in this genre as its own instrument that gives an extra layer to the sonics.
It begins heavy as it develops the melodic theme; the track revolves around subtle changes in tonality. Like the other tracks on the album, it is varied as it slides from doomy parts over to glistening wonderful high-pitched ones with gusts of Post-Rock and back again. Throughout the song, its timbre changes as it drifts into a high-pitched flow of wonderful melodic elements, with one high-pitched guitar leading the yearnings for higher sound as the other holds the heavy riffs. Ultimately the riffs take over and sink back to the heavy and dense timbre of Post-Metal music with undulating flow, low-end bass, hoarse vocals, and steady drums leading forward until it echoes away.
Like the first song, the third one, ”Bones of Giants”, also has an idle opening with soft echoing guitars while the bass follows with a melodic theme. The drums signal a change as a strong delicate voice is hovering above the music. The music slowly surges into a Post-Rock soundscape drifting forward until it merges into tight distorted Post-Metal with hoarse vocals and onslaughts from the distorted riffs and bass lines, leaving no air left in the dense music. The drums take charge and loosen the sound. A lot is going on in the layers and between the dense guitars, and the music radiates a soaring sense that lowers itself down onto the dense chugs of the bass and six-strings. A guitar breaks out gliding and sneaking between the chugs forming an ear-catching melodic theme, slowly taking over the song as it holds the melody while the other instruments fade away and only the gliding distorted guitar remains for a dissonant end.
After all this massive music, there are twenty minutes left as the band unleashes the colossal, diverse, and emotive last song ”Teeth”. Writing and performing such a mastodon of a song without one dull moment is quite an achievement. They fuse everything and anything Post-Metal into this song which opens very densely with no clue of the musical and emotional journey you are about to be dragged along on. It is repetitive with coarse vocals deep in the layers. One thing to keep an open ear on is that amid the repetitiveness the drums sometimes seem out of step with the rest and as such change the mood. Just when you think it is too repetitive, just as you form that thought, they change the path of the song. The riffs have longer takes, the bass rumbles, bursts from the guitar break open, and the diverse drums sustain the sonics. You wait for a release, and it comes many times in this song, with wonderful surges. It is as crushing as it is uplifting as the guitars soar in the dense timbre of the music. Deep in the layers of chugging the rough vocals come back as the song is drawn out until a new part of evocative music takes us to the end of a surprisingly varied musical journey, packed with emotive effects. It fades away into turning gears.
Last year, Ripcord Records released the sampler ”You Matter: Part II” with 101 bands contributing. For me, Helve managed to stand out as one of the most interesting and promising bands with the song ”Dark Clouds”. It is quite an achievement to stand out among so many good bands, and it is even more of an achievement to deliver on the promise of that song with this debut album. The Post-Metal genre is in good hands as bands like Helve have picked up the baton.