Album Review – Helevorn / Aamamata (2019)

Embrace darkness and melancholy to the sound of the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the underground Spanish scene.

Hailing from Palma de Mallorca (which is becoming a recurrent source of first-class metal music at The Headbanging Moose), in the Balearic Islands, Spain, the melancholic, somber and utterly melodic Gothic/Doom Metal outfit that goes by the stylish name of Helevorn (a lake in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion) returns in 2019 with their fourth full-length album and what’s perhaps their boldest and most detailed opus since their inception in 1999, the multi-layered Aamamata, leaving us absolutely stunned with its almost one hour of the finest and most elegant heavy music you can think of. Comprised of lead singer Josep Brunet, guitarists Sandro Vizcaino and Samuel Morales, bassist Guillem Morey, pianist and keyboardist Enrique Sierra, and drummer Xavi Gil, Helevorn aim at reaching new heights with Aamamata, proving melancholic doom can be just as breathtaking as any style considered faster or heavier, being highly recommended for admirers of the gloomy music by renowned acts like Draconian, Swallow The Sun and Paradise Lost.

Featuring a classy logo by Irene Serrano, a mesmerizing artwork by Gonzalo Aeneas depicting Sibyl, and Ancient Greek prophetess, and several brilliant guest musicians such as Júlia Colom and Heike Langhans (from Draconian), Aamamata, the song that Death sings every day in the Mediterranean Sea (which has become a desolate pit for human lives), goes beyond the boundaries of traditional Doom Metal, bringing elements from countless metal and non-metal styles and, therefore, offering our avid ears a unique and captivating sonority from start to finish. “We know that we are not discovering something new, but it’s how it sounds the 90’s goth-doom metal in the present times. It should be received like a piece to reborn the scene and to relate music and the decadence of Humankind through the drama of the refugees, that constantly are dying trying to escape from the hell that Western Countries put to them. We think that fans will love the new album,” said the band about their newborn spawn, and they’re more than right in stating we, fans of underground heavy music, will simply love Aamamata in its entirety.

Sandro and Samuel begin slashing their strings in the sluggish and atmospheric opening track A Sail To Sanity, urging us all to bang our heads like there’s no tomorrow in a beautiful display of classic Doom Metal where Josep growls deeply and with a lot of anguish, whereas in Goodbye, Hope the piano and keys by Enrique bring a touch of delicacy and melancholy to the musicality, while Xavi pounds his drums in the most damned way possible, being tailored for fans of somber and heavy-as-hell doom. And in Blackened Waves, led by Gulliem’s metallic bass lines and Enrique’s ethereal keys, we’re treated to a dense and enfolding sound enhanced by cryptic lyrics that exhale poetry and arcane feelings (“Rolling by, weary, uneven planes / A darkness lurks / Slowly, I am given to the mystery / I am drawn into its depths / A wall of, formidable strength / The power is palpable”).

However, it’s in Aurora, a hypnotizing voyage through the most obscure realms of Doom Metal, that Helevorn position themselves as one of the most interesting names of the current Spanish scene, with the music starting in a compelling way with the gorgeous vocals by guest Júlia Colom together with the eccentric sounds of the bouzouki and bağlama by Jaume Compte, bringing an extra dosage of finesse to the music, not to mention its classic riffs and pleasant pace. Furthermore, this flawless aria is dedicated to all of those who have fallen by executions and political persecution during the fascist coup in Spain in 1936, and are still missing, buried in hundreds of unmarked mass graves, but is especially dedicated to Aurora Picornell, a freedom fighter who stood up for liberty and civil rights, and was executed on January 5, 1937 (more than 80 years after her death, her body has not yet been found). If that doesn’t touch your soul, I honestly don’t know what would. Anyway, drinking from the same fountain as Paradise Lost and Draconian, Helevorn deliver Forgotten Fields, a song that feels like it was written in the 90’s with Josep once again doing an amazing job with both his harsh growls and clean vocals, followed by the serene Nostrum Mare (Et deixo un pont de mar blava), featuring spoken parts by (in order of appearance) Vassilis Mazaris (Greek), Diane Camenzuli (Maltese), Joan Oliver (Spanish), Sara Husein El Ahmed (Arabic), Pablo Ferrarese (Italian), Isabelle Pereira (French), Élide Terrón and Felip Palou (Catalan), and Corin Solo Fogel (Hebraic), while the band makes sure the atmosphere remains vibrant and obscure throughout the entire song, in special the piano notes by Enrique and the metallic riffs by the band’s guitar duo.

Once Upon a War is another old school composition showcasing slow and steady drums, low-tuned bass punches intertwined with piano notes, and a very powerful vocal performance by Josep deeply vociferating the song’s acid lyrics (“A woman taken from home / To appease the warlords’ thirst / The children give themselves up / What must be done to save their own innocence? / Innocents!”), all embraced by Sandro’s and Samuel’s crisp riffs and solos, before the over 8 minutes of mesmerizing, doomed music found in the following tune, entitled The Path to Puya, majestically penetrates deep inside your mind, with the stunning guest vocalist Heike Langhans forming a fantastic dynamic duo with Josep, while guest Pedro Zubiri (from Blind Panic) fires a soulful guitar solo for our total delight, and that hypnotizing and breathtaking vibe goes on until the song’s obscure finale. And lastly, Helevorn bring forward the gentle La Sibil-la, a Catalan medieval song dated from the 10th century, with the band’s version being very delicate and dense, switching from purely acoustic passages to the traditional heaviness of Doom Metal, providing a superb ending for a grandiose album of dark and mournful metal music.

You can find Aamamata available for a full listen on YouTube, and purchase your copy of such awesome album from the band’s official BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from the Solitude Productions webstore (in regular CD or Digipak format), from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs. Furthermore, don’t forget to show your utmost support to those talented Spaniards by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by listening to their music on Spotify. Helevorn elevated not only the quality and potency of their already refined Doom Metal in Aamamata, but the spirits of all of those who admire the fusion of good heavy music with a strong background message or meaning. And that, my dear metalheads, is the true essence of heavy music and everything we should always look for when in pursuit of new or unique names in the underground metal scene like Helevorn.

Best moments of the album: A Sail To Sanity, Blackened Waves, Aurora and The Path to Puya.

Worst moments of the album: Forgotten Fields.

Released in 2019 Solitude Productions/BadMoodMan Music

Track listing
1. A Sail To Sanity 5:25
2. Goodbye, Hope 5:58
3. Blackened Waves 5:26
4. Aurora 7:24
5. Forgotten Fields 5:44
6. Nostrum Mare (Et deixo un pont de mar blava) 7:28
7. Once Upon a War 5:55
8. The Path to Puya 8:38
9. La Sibil-la 5:05

Band members
Josep Brunet – vocals
Sandro Vizcaino – guitars
Samuel Morales – guitars
Guillem Morey – bass
Enrique Sierra – piano, keyboards
Xavi Gil – drums

Guest musicians
Júlia Colom – guest vocals on “Aurora” and “Nostrum Mare”
Heike Langhans – guest vocals on “The Path to Puya”
Jaume Compte – bouzouki and bağlama on “Aurora”
Pedro Zubiri – guitar solo on “The Path to Puya”
Batucada d’es Gremi – additional drums on “Aurora”
‘Are’are women (Malaita, Salomon Islands) – outro singing on “The Path to Puya”
Vassilis Mazaris, Diane Camenzuli, Joan Oliver, Sara Husein El Ahmed, Pablo Ferrarese, Isabelle Pereira, Élide Terrón, Felip Palou & Corin Solo Fogel – spoken parts on “Nostrum Mare”

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Album Review – Inferitvm / The Grimoires (2019)

Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, this unrelenting Spanish horde delivers an excellent album that lives up to the legacy of 90’s Black Metal.

Born in 2014 in Palma de Mallorca, a resort city located in the Balearic Islands in Spain, with the task of putting the Black Metal genre back in the shadow of the glory it had in the 90’s, following the label from the most infamous bands from that period as a pure conceptual beginning (but excluding arsoning or murders, of course), the unstoppable horde that goes by the name of Inferitvm has just released their sophomore album The Grimoires, an epic story about black magic, esoteric rituals and all the different ingredients of true classical Black Metal. Having said that, do you accept the challenge of deciphering the forbidden texts that Inferitvm have brought back to life?

Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Sorcerer V., guitarist Lord Insekkton, bassist Aghanazzar and drummer Bârg, the sound of Inferitvm is fast, raw and full of details and reminiscences, with bands like Emperor and Immortal, as well as several other renowned groups from Norway, Sweden and Finland, serving as the main inspiration for their music. Telling the story of the most important forbidden grimoires in European history, delving into the miseries and stories behind them, The Grimoires is a manual for unraveling all the mysteries of black magic, with a symphonic twist that will undoubtedly surprise all who enjoy devilish and extreme music. Furthermore, the album brings some orchestral variations which end up helping to introduce your mind into the concept and imagery of an album that’s definitely “not for children”, with its lyrics being based on ancient spells and rituals of esoteric origin, and with the majority of recital refrains expressing the prayers and rituals in a solemn and profound way.

Phantasmagorical keys generate a menacing ambience in the intro Trithemius, before Inferitvm comes ripping with the sonic onrush titled Codex Gigas, where Sorcerer V. gnarls and vociferates like a demon to the imposing beast by Bârg. Moreover, Sorcerer v. and Lord Insekkton bring tons of melody to the musicality with their strings, flirting with contemporary Melodic Black Metal but still sounding loyal to the foundations of classic Black Metal. Then their devastation goes on in the sulfurous and pulverizing Clavicula Salomonis, a lecture in Black Metal bringing forward the most malevolent elements of the genre spearheaded by Sorcerer V.’s infernal roars; and there’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps blasting sheer obscurity through their damned instruments in Malleus Maleficarum, with Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton being on fire with their riffs and solos throughout this marching mass of absolute evil.

In Goetia of Shadows, Bârg and Aghanazzar keep smashing their instruments nonstop, generating a reverberating sound that will please all fans of the genre, all balanced by some very harmonious guitar lines and hellish growls, whereas Galdabrök is another hammering, disturbing hymn of darkness by Inferitvm, with Bârg and his pounding drums dictating the rhythm while Sorcerer V. grasps the song’s obscure lyrics poetically and darkly. In Liber Lux Tenebris, the scorching hot guitars by Sorcerer V. and Lord Insekkton add a touch of Doom Metal to their already infernal music before all hell breaks loose in another feast of old school Black Metal perfect for banging your head in the name of evil. And De Occulta Philosophia is probably one of the most disturbing songs of the whole album (if not the most), where all band members make sure they extract the most Stygian sounds form their instruments, in special the band’s infernal guitar duo with their classic riffage, ending in the most unsettling way possible.

Fortunately for all fans of extreme music, the last batch of songs from The Grimoires is just as thrilling and vile as the rest of the album, starting with La Poule Noire, presenting a classic Scandinavian Black Metal sound with the band’s own twist, sounding as violent as it can be, with its guitar solos creating an interesting paradox with the blast beats delivered by Bârg; followed by De Praestigiis Daemonum, a truly infernal aria where Inferitvm crush our minds mercilessly with their brutality, darkness and rage, or in other words, a demolishing Black Metal tune with a few breaks and variations added to bring more taste and punch to the overall result. And last but not least, the cryptic vocalizations by Sorcerer V. ignite the closing tune titled De Umbrarum Regni, spiced up with nuances of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, remaining creepy and atmospheric until its visceral ending.

In a nutshell, this unstoppable Spanish horde more than succeeds in telling stories of black magic and evil spells in the form of the pulverizing Black Metal found in The Grimoires (available for a full listen on Spotify), and in order to show your true support to those four horsemen of old school Black Metal simply follow them on Facebook, and grab your copy of such distinct album from their BandCamp page, from the Inverse Records webstore, from iTunes or from Amazon. Because, in the end, all you have to do is let the ancient spells and malignancy flowing from the music by Inferitvm consume your soul, keeping the flame of 90’s Black Metal burning bright for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Clavicula Salomonis, Malleus Maleficarum and De Occulta Philosophia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Trithemius 1:23
2. Codex Gigas 5:46
3. Clavicula Salomonis 6:55
4. Malleus Maleficarum 6:23
5. Goetia of Shadows 6:04
6. Galdabrök 5:14
7. Liber Lux Tenebris 5:41
8. De Occulta Philosophia 7:01
9. La Poule Noire 5:30
10. De Praestigiis Daemonum 5:02
11. De Umbrarum Regni 5:26

Band members
Sorcerer V. – vocals, guitar
Lord Insekkton – guitar
Aghanazzar – bass
Bârg – drums