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WLM Reviews: Helsótt – The Healer

April 15, 2017

When you think of epic style Pagan Metal, I would wager that Europe is the first place you’d think of. Helsótt throws that idea out the window, since they hail from California – a place I certainly don’t associate with Folk Metal. In this case, it really doesn’t matter where the band is from.

The band’s EP, The Healer on M-Theory Records, is a nice bit of Metal delivered with consistency and conviction. I like nearly everything about the band’s sound and songwriting. The most detrimental thing is some of vocalist Eric Dow’s style. I don’t mind the harsh approach, but when they resemble Fallujah/Cattle Decapitation, it’s just a bit much. Otherwise, I am picking up what they’re putting down.

The four original tracks and one cover song, range from flat out Thrash Metal to Ensiferum-type Folk melodies. The title track kicks things off and does so with a ton of aggression, especially for a mid-paced song. Probably the most epic sounding song, it has a definite Folk Metal pattern and some cool musical ideas thrown into the mix. Dow reaches down low for a barking style that is intelligible and sounds like it’s done through a funnel (best description I could come up with). Astralive sort of plods along through the first three quarters before picking up toward the end. It’s OK, but certainly not my favorite here. Tavern’s Tale is, by far, the most folky of the bunch. A guitar based melody with “tweedly” keyboards, awash over a riffs that sound like they were written for Victory Songs. Even though it may be the least original sounding, it’s unsurprisingly the best song on the album.

The cover song is not one I knew – but it was clearly not a Helsótt original. Unconscious Power by Iron Butterfly is the choice. Helsótt uses harsh vocals and some weird singing during the chorus. Of course the music is much heavier than what Iron Butterfly did nearly 50 years ago and the band took some liberties with the arrangement, in a good way. Epic Battle is a bit disjointed with several sections seemingly put together with abrupt transitions. Again, the weird female singing as on Unconscious Power appears and is a bit jolting, as it doesn’t seem to fit well. The mid paced passage during the last minute and a half is the best part of the song. Would like to have heard that as a main theme all the way through.

Check out The Healer:

If you need a fix of some European sounding Pagan Metal, be sure to grab this 1/2 album from Helsótt . The Healer definitely has something that should appeal to fans of the genre.

I hear the sound in a Metal way.

Related articles: Ensiferum, Paganfest, Skyclad

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