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Hellsaw: Trist

Here's the thing about Hellsaw: they are a strong Black Metal band that distinguishes itself from other bands through its little touches of melody. Too many Black Metal bands sound the same and don't work hard enough to give fans a reason to listen. Hellsaw is different. These guys have just enough melodic sense to give listeners a kind of hook, something they can use to tell each one apart. Don't misunderstand--this is heavy and gloomy Black Metal, but it has a better overall musical sense than other similar bands I've heard over the years. Although I haven't heard much of Hellsaw's music before now, I assume that this release is largely consistent with prior work. It doesn't sound like an experiment with new sounds or new lyrical themes.

The opening track "The Devil is Calling My Name," begins with a sustained arpeggio passage that leads into a slow, moody, vocal that shortly transforms into a faster, aggressive, song, punctuated by repeated line that "The Devil is Calling My Name." This is a solid opening track, especially given its use of various tempos and musical moods. To some extent, this track highlights the overall sound of Hellsaw on this release. The next two tracks sound a little too much alike, but they do keep up the general momentum of the opening track. Check out the way that Neuroticon's drum parts range from the driving blast beats to more conventional rhythmic lines. The variety is refreshing, even though his blast beats sometimes sound like a toy soldier running after a parade. They are fast and driving and, though perhaps louder than they should be. After all, this is a band that works melody into their sound, something that shouldn't be drowned out entirely.

Some highlights from Trist include "Forerunner of the Apocalypse," "Beldam 1450," and "Death Bells." I especially enjoyed the choral opening of the latter, though I regretted that they never found their way back into the song. I don't think Hellsaw would lose any of their edge by adding some ominous vocal lines behind their driving metal sound. Some of these tracks are just long enough that they could use the extra musical texture of some different sounds and styles. My favorite track, "Beldam 1450," highlights the variety of sounds that Hellsaw brings to Trist generally. I'm not sure what the historical reference is here, but musically the track works quite well. The closing song "Silence" was a little disappointing, mainly because it is anything but quiet. The opening arpeggio from the guitar hints that this could be one of those more meditative tracks that close out a hard-driving album. Instead, this song quickly moves into a powerful song that highlights, so far as I can tell, themes regret, complete with the regular cry of "I long to be free." Check out the last couple of minutes of this track, especially when the eerie little yells start coming out and Aries offers up some deep growls. This is a haunting song--a fitting conclusion to a strong album.

Track Listing:
1. The Devil is Calling My Name
2. Sorrow is Horror
3. Doom Pervades My Nightmares
4. Forerunner of the Apocalypse
5. Death Bells
6. Trist
7. A Winter Cold
8. Beldam
9. Silence

Added: February 29th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2531
Language: english

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