HelangǺr - [kwIn’tes sens]
Self-released
Progressive Metal
8 songs (45:55)
Release year: 2008
Helangår
Reviewed by Goat

Some bands simply ooze their influences, showing off the accumulated scars and scratches of a life in the music business like particularly desperate crack whores. Others, such as Helangår, make it practically impossible to fathom just where they get their individual rackets. Clearly having evolved from early releases with names such as Evening In Valhalla, on third album [kwIn’tes sens] the German band plays an Avant-Gardey form of Prog Metal, with enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most rabid of music fans spoilt by these modern times when pretty much everybody seems to have heard of Mike Patton.

Unfortunately for Helangår, [kwIn’tes sens] manages to shoot any chances of recognition it had in the foot from the outset. Firstly, there’s that dreadful title: brackets and inappropriate capitals are so outmoded now as to be a signpost to wary music fans that Wackiness is present. Eccentricity in music works best when you’re uncomfortably aware it’s there, but it doesn’t announce itself – it just sits in the background, giving you the occasional stare, all the more creepy for its restraint. When Wackiness is forced to jump through such clichéd hoops as this it loses the whimsical air that the band would so love to attain. Instead, you can feel a depressing sense of desperation, a band trying hard to show how gosh-darn kerr-azee it is, and simply showing up its own failures in the process.

Secondly, upon listening to the music you’re greeted with one of the most lifeless productions ever, strangely only during the heavy parts! When you’re in one of the many smooth and well-played atmospheric sections, the spoken Germanic vocals and guitar noodling are pleasantly reminiscent of Neofolk’s finer moments, and all is well. It’s when the riffs take a more Metallic turn that things go awry, the scraping tone of the guitars and unconvincingly Toolish percussion sounding like a very amateur imitation of Godflesh. The drums on the album are probably not the work of a drum machine, but they have that horribly mechanical sound that cancels out the effect of the (presumably human) drummer’s skill. When oh when will people learn that very few bands can use a drum machine and make it work?

As enjoyable as the music can be when things come together, it’s the band’s songwriting that has finally crippled this album. Having just five proper tracks here, the others being short untitled interludes, is not the sort of move that a band seeking wider appreciation wants to make. How many of you are going to sit down with this and give the thirteen meandering minutes of faltering guitars and suspiciously precise drums that is Nichts the attention it deserves? There is much to recommend Helangår, especially if an enterprising label (Candlelight, perhaps?) was to take the band under its wing and propel the promising mixture into a well-produced and focused blast of experimental Metal. Until then, [kwIn’tes sens] is a flawed work that will be overlooked in the face of more widely-known efforts from bigger names.

MySpace
Killing Songs :
L’amour du mensonge
Goat quoted 59 / 100
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