(Released: September 2014)
Palma de Mallorca, capital city of the Balearic Islands is a place of sun, sand and sea; a favoured holiday destination of the Spanish royal family and famed for its unusual bronze bins… With the release of Helevorn’s ‘Compassion Forlorn’, it is now clear that Palma is also a place of darkness, pain and haunted melody. Whichever way you look at it, sunshine or shadow, there is beauty to be found. Helevorn’s second album, four years after ‘Forthcoming Displeasures’ is a devastating mix of tear-stained gothic metal and thundering doom.
Helevorn create slow, simple, elegant songs of sorrow and deliver them with style. Sung in English, Josep Brunet’s proud, piercing clean vocals are punctuating with rasping growls, and his superb melodicism brings the music to life. Brunet’s voice is imbued with a desperate in-your-face sadness that is both endearing and enthralling. Brooding/blasting guitars are blessed with rich, warm tones that hold you in their muscular, suffocating embrace. And the flowery piano parts and enticing synth undertones from Enrique Sierra add depth and inventiveness.
Essentially a slicker, modernised version of 1990s Paradise Lost, a combination of epic doom, gothicana, and mid-tempo Katatonia death-doom, Helevorn are following a well-worn path. They may lack a degree of originality in their core riffs, which often follow a fairly standard pattern, but the band makes up for it with the kind of passion and power that lifts them to a higher echelon.
Songs such as ‘Burden Me’, ‘Looters’ and ‘Delusive Eyes’ are seriously impressive arrangements that showcase the band’s superior songwriting skills. While the album can feel slightly one-paced overall, many of the songs benefit from structures that flow and bend but never get lost. They never fall into the trap of over-extending – instead, roaring from your speakers for five or six minutes each before moving onto the next item on this tapas menu of misery.
Helevorn, formed in 1999, have an ability to be extravagant without self-indulgence, to be emotional without blubbering. The stirring spoken word passages may be off-putting to some, but thankfully their timing and positioning is generally well-judged. The colossal choruses and golden harmonies will make your soul happy, while the female vocals on the final track ‘Els Dies Tranquils’ (Catalan for The Calm Days) provide a thrilling finale.
From the opening song, ‘The Inner Crumble’ (300g of plain flour, 170g of brown sugar, 450g of chopped apples…. No, wait, that’s a different kind of crumble) through 50 minutes of explosive gothic doom, Helevorn have struck gold with ‘Compassion Forlorn’ – an album of great finesse and emotional depth.