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Helcaraxe: Red Dragon

Epic, melodic death metal is all the rage on the latest from New Jersey's Helcaraxe, titled Red Dragon. This is not your typical death metal fare however, so if you are expecting horror, gore, of occult themed lyrical imagery you can forget it, as Helcaraxe instead look to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit for inspiration on this album. Dragon's, swords, battles, and treacherous journeys through dangerous lands make up the storyline here, as Helcaraxe inject their brand of crushing metal into this familiar & beloved Tolkien tale.

You have to give this band credit for creating extreme metal that just has 'class' written all over it. From the guitar harmonies, the epic arrangements, the brutal riffage, pounding rhythms, to the bellowing growls, it's all done with expert precision and comes across as so powerful. I'm reminded at times of some of the best from Amon Amarth and even classic Edge of Sanity here, and to further connect to some classic era death metal, Dark Tranquility's Mikael Stanne even makes a guest vocal appearance on the raging "Skin Changer". Other pulverizing tracks include the crunchy "The Old Forest Road", the bombastic "Circle of Firelight", and the textured title track, complete with lovely acoustic guitars and some tasty dual guitar harmonies from Bill Henderson & Jon Tarella. The band at times do a great job of juggling the haunting atmosphere with the brutal death metal (much like early Opeth or Amorphis), but can also dial up the relentless old school mentality as on the raging "The Arkenstone", with Jesse Traynor delivering some deep growls that bring to mind vintage Dan Swano. I also need to make mention of the rhythm team of bassist Pat Henry and drummer Mike Donatelli, who do a fine job throughout but really shine on the melodic and intricate "Into the Fire and the Sky", a pulsating, twisting slice of epic death metal.

Not only is the music on the CD top notch, but the booklet contains some gorgeous artwork and detailing, making Red Dragon an overall outstanding package. There's a new player on the melodic death metal scene folks, so if you haven't yet discovered Helcaraxe, now's the time to do so.

Track Listing
1. The Thief
2. Circle of Firelight
3. Orcrist
4. A Fortune in Riddles
5. Into the Fire and the Sky
6. Skin Changer
7. The Old Forest Road
8. Dungeons
9. Red Dragon
10. The Arkenstone
11. Oakenshield Lament

Added: October 7th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2839
Language: english

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