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Helcaraxe: Children of Ygg

It's pretty rare to come across a death metal band that not only bludgeons you with extreme brutality, but also has a way with crafting their songs to be irresistibly catchy, epic in scope, and supremely technical in spots. New Jersey melodic death metal act Helcaraxe scored a major win with their 2012 release Red Dragon and they've followed that up here with Children of Ygg, a compilation of sorts that pulls together their Black Flames demo as well as previously unreleased tracks from both the Red Dragon and Triumph & Revenge album sessions. So, while it's not necessarily 'new music', it's going to be new to many, and when you toss in the fantastic artwork from Alan Lathwell that adorns the booklet, you have another sensational release from a band that needs to be heard by the extreme metal masses.

Remember when Amon Amarth used to deliver exciting releases that put the 'epic' in death & viking metal, before they began basically releasing the same album over and over? Well, Helcaraxe certainly are doing the same but on a much grander scale. These songs are just so 'classy', if that is even possible for death metal, with tunes like "The Return", "Sonnenrad", and "Service of Shadows" mixing technical arrangements with crushing brutality, yet still somehow it all remains quite catchy and memorable. Lead singer Jesse Traynor has a wide assortment of vocal styles in his repertoire, including some brutal growls, agonizing screams, and chilling bellows, which you can hear all in the same song on the melodic yet crushing "Cimmeria". The twin guitar team of Bill Henderson & Jon Tarella do everything needed and then some, pulverizing the listener with a non-stop supply of brutal riffs, twin harmonies, complex unison lines, and blazing leads, and when they want to groove, which they do so well on "The Fade", the results are staggeringly good. "In the Midwinter" is one of the speedier tracks here, which allows drummer Mike Donatella & bassist Pat Henry to lay down some intricate rhythms over which Henderson & Tarella can craft some inventive riffing. "Cross Crusher" is another rager with a black metal vibe to it, but the song sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage. The same can be said for "Deeds of the Master" and the Bad Religion cover ""God Song", all three originally on the Black Flames demo, but despite the sub-par production, these tracks have a savage, raw charm to them.

If you like classic Unleashed, Grave, Amon Amarth, or Amorphis, there's no reason in the world why Helcaraxe shouldn't be on your immediate radar. Children of Ygg is a rousing set of material from the vaults which will tide us all over nicely while the band puts together their next epic statement.

Track Listing
1) Sonnenrad
2) Service of Shadows
3) Dismantled
4) Othala
5) Ragnarok
6) The Return
7) Cimmeria
8) The Fade
9) In the Midwinter
10) Cross Crusher
11) Deeds of the Master
12) God Song

Added: June 28th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3054
Language: english

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