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  HELLEBORUS
'The Carnal Sabbath'
(Satanath Records (Russia)/Black Plague Records(USA))


jools green

Jools Green



helleborus

I have been anticipating the release of 'The Carnal Sabbath', the Housman brothers' debut full length project as Helleborus, having heard their other also excellent project Akhenaten, for what seems like an eternity. They've been taunting and teasing waiting fans with the release of three singles from this upcoming album during 2015 namely 'Coils', 'Colored Spores Of Yuggoth' and 'The Carnal Sabbath' but it is finally here and lives up to every expectation. Simply put, it's a superbly crafted album.

Both Jerred, who covers all guitars and drums and Wyatt, on vocals, are former members of brutal death Metal band Execration and although their current projects are, in many ways, very far removed from their death Metal beginnings, there are still aspects of those times that have been brought across to both Akhenaten and Helleborus, however their intention with Helleborus is to push the exploration of traditional black Metal into the uncharted territory of sensual duality and mysticism, with the addition of the psychedelic twist on black Metal as well as aspects of death and doom Metal.

Plus there's an ambient undercurrent all based around a strong core of broad ranging lyrical inspiration, elements of Left Hand Path philosophy, aspects of the occult and Lovecraftian influences, adding a unique and diverse aspect to the sound as well as making it a hugely listenable, varied and interesting offering with a consistently high standard to both instrumentation and vocal content, the latter of which has a good clarity of delivery.

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It's also this degree of variety that helps to make this such a listenable release; the first hints at the psychedelic edge start to manifest in the opening minute of 'Helleborus Black' from synthesiser elements on what would otherwise be quite a harsh, slightly gothic, black Metal offering whereas 'Coils' has a stronger melodic edge to the guitars which give a superb contrast against the deep harsh vocal delivery and higher profile drum work.

The further into his album I get the more I love it and on 'Edge Of Black Water' a great haunting repeat riffs runs beneath the harsh vocal delivery and expands into superb crisp lead work in the second half, all of which makes for a hugely emotive offering with a nice contrast coming from the closing blackened riffing.

'Colored Spores Of Yuggoth' has slightly more of a straightforward black Metal approach, dark crushing and intense but enhanced this time with the clever use of thrashy guitar squeals, adding a haunting sinister mood. The vocal layering is excellent here, as is the vocal range which is at times almost spoken with the sonic edged synths at the close adding an even more eerie, spacey mood.

helleborus

In an even more traditional black Metal vein 'Draconian Discipline' gains its sinister edge from the abundant use from tremolo picking alongside an increasingly deranged and broad ranging vocal delivery; a superb track.

As the sinister bass lines are joined by synthesisers I thought 'The Poison Of Sleep' was going to turn into an 80s style progressive offering but instead it manifests as a mix of intense blasts and haunting hypnotic repeats with a modern blackened twist and I love how the vocals develop a more and more distorted edge as the track progresses. There is even a bit of a blackened groove to the closing guitars, just before one final crushing onslaught; a superbly sinister track.

'The Temple Of The Seventh Death' comes in softer and more melodic but add the sinister gargling vocal delivery and this track becomes a whole new beast entirely and the sudden fade out at the end threw me completely, especially when it faded back into the start of next track 'A Gift Of Renewal' with its straightforward and understated distant haunting melody running beneath vocals, which here are the key factor. A very sinister, gargling delivery adding a dark edge to what could have been an innocuous, this time, slightly psychedelic track, now turned menacing with the use of some excellent vocal effects.

The mood totally changes for the final track, 'The Carnal Sabbath', an utterly crushing black Metal onslaught to begin with, intense riffing, a rasping vocal delivery, with a strong contrast created as the tempo drops away and a more melodic mood, along with some sublime guitar work, takes hold but maintaining the rasping vocals, the intensity returns briefly towards the close; a hugely memorable track to end on and one that urges you to listen over again.

Not only is the material on 'The Carnal Sabbath' well delivered but the production is excellent also. There's a notable crispness to the overall finish. Fans of The Devils Blood, Satyricon, Necorphobic, Belphegor or Blut Aus Nord should find this intriguing offering of great interest.




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