Helgardh
The Black Flame Descent

 USBM is an interesting animal.

When placed next to it’s European counterparts it seems more savage, feral if you will. Like it feels like it has to prove something in order to be accepted. Sad but true, and while there are great American Black Metal bands, Helgardh is going to have to work to be one of them.

Hailing from West Virginia, these guys know where they want to stand as far as their craft goes, and while The Black Flame Descent isn’t a bad album, it’s a flawed one. It has all the elements that make a good Black Metal album: blast beats galore, icy riffs and ultra Kvlt vocals. But it isn’t a great Black Metal album, despite wearing its influences on its sleeve.

So where to start? The logical place would be the first track, “Palace of the Fading Light” which starts out with a very Dissection guitar intro before dissolving into a very confusing song. I say confusing because there are parts of this song that are really cool, but they are stuck between unrelated riffs that make the song hard to listen to in parts because there’s so many riffs thrown in that there are literally a couple different songs going on in this one track. Which, thankfully doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the album, but doesn’t help it either. Case in point is track three, “Angeli Cruciatus (May Angels Come)”.

Female vocals, especially bad female vocals are really ill- advised, and on a Black Metal album of this style, a really bad idea. So what do we have here? Bad female vocals? Yep. Which is sad, because track two, “The Trance of Empyrean“, is really good. Good enough to forgive them for track one. But the album falls into a pit of inconsistency so deep that it’s really hard to dig itself out. “Exorcismus” is trying to channel Cradle of Filth with it’s little spoken word interlude. But there are good songs besides track two and a couple standouts would also be “Crown of Fire” and “Abomination“.

Production wise though, this is a good sounding album. The guitars have that sort of acid tone that lends itself to the proceedings, while the drums have a nice organic feel that isn’t all triggers and clattering. The aforementioned ultra Kvlt vocals? Check, but there’s still a bit of a Death Metal roar in there for good measure.

It sucks, but there’s so much that needs to be right for this album to work all the way and the good moments just don’t come as often. Really what it boils down to is that Helgardh know what they want, and  what they want to sound like. But for album two there needs to be a honing in skill and direction. For now though, The Black Flame Descent is as good a start as any.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jeremy Beck
April 28th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: F.RIni

    I actually really enjoy this album, Jeremy! I actually like track #3 too, I think the guitar melodies are excellent and I thought the female vocals were decent. To each his own. Nicely written review, though. My review goes live on allabouttherock.uk later this week, with an interview down the line.


  2. Commented by: Appollyonx

    Thanks,I’ll check that out :)


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