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Some albums are confusing me during a first listen. Invariably, every music lover will create categories into which he classifies groups and the songs he listens, but it's not always that simple. This happened when I put my ear on Trist (2012), latest album of the Austrian horde Hellsaw. No doubt, this is black metal, but with many nuances. Rather than focusing on a single sub-genre, these Styrians navigate between several. This gives a very interesting result. Let’s analyze this beast.
The Devil Is Calling My Name starts the album and is divided in two steps. Slow at first, this song picks up speed after a minute, setting sound characteristics of the entire album, especially for the rhythmic section. The drum has a very hollow sound and bass is well-mixed, elements also strongly present throughout the disc. Fastest of the record, with a few blasts, Sorrow Is Horror is still interspersed with passages that introduce much heavier moods. It is however with Doom Pervades My Nightmares and its long acoustic passage that reveals the multifaceted nature of Hellsaw. We leave the strict traditional repertoire of black metal to add melodic elements. This is even more evident on The Forerunner of the Apocalypse and its mid-tempo epic moments and Death Bells and its incantatory hymns! As for the title track, it wears its name well. Trist could indeed easily be found on a depressive black metal album with its languid despair. However, the group goes again with A Winter Cold and Beldam. 1450, which is a fast and aggressive tune, cools down with slow transitions that make you want to tap your foot. Just like the opening track, Silence concludes the album by starting in first gear before moving to the fifth without warning, while beautiful and powerful yelled passages accompany this excellent title.
Hellsaw shows a great maturity with this album. The compositions are balanced and the album is captivating from the first to the last note. My only complaint would be the sound of the drums, I would have liked it more organic and less metallic, but apart from this detail, Trist is a very good album, who knows how to make the best of several sub-genres of contemporary black metal. 8/10
Initially written for metalobscur.com
When Austria comes to conversation in the matter of metal, you may automatically think in three things: the respected Napalm Records, the death/black metal institution Belphegor and Visions Of Atlantis on the symphonic side. Currently, I can add another horde: Hellsaw. In spite of their 10 years career, this black metal group appears stronger than ever in this unholy year of 2012 with the new album "Trist", the fourth one.
When I first listened to "Trist", I cleared up all doubts instantly and assumed I was present before a great record. However, I didn't want to rush myself and had to listen to it more often, but still all the doubts remained vanished.
When "The Devil Is Calling My Name" starts to run I understood this is a very corrosive album, a corrosion blended with furious and melodic soundscapes which will take you down without any kind of warning. If the first track can alternate between slow and fast tempo passages functioning as a habituation for what is coming next, the "Sorrow Is Horror" track is a machine gun of hate, simply straightfoward and modern black metal.
The great highlights of "Trist" start with the "Doom Pervades Nightmares" track, one of the best achievements in the album. Beautifully, Hellsaw managed to mix a furious and apocalyptic wall of sound with a lead-guitar which verges on sadness and nostalgia - the doom that pervades nightmares. I can assume this song is also the Hellsaw experimental side, because slowly the music fades out to what I can call a latin-oriented musical passage.
The next song, "The Forerunner Of The Apocalypse", is another point I want to highlight. Incredibly, black metal bands can also create catchy music and I can't get tired of listen to this song! It will turn out to be a very nice single in the future if Hellsaw intend to.
Ahead, after the "Death Bells" track, comes the title-track which sends me shivers down my spine. I'll use the same word I used in the beginning: corrosive. Exactly, the chosen single track is the most corrosive, the deepest soul suffocation of the entire record. A scent of despair is felt and I can't turn my back and follow my path, because "Trist" just won't allow me to do that. (Just watch the videoclip below, please).
The album ends with "Silence", a song with some darkly positive energy which impels you to play "Trist" again when it comes to its end. Acoustic parts will lead you to find some peace from the agonizing voice sang by Aries, but this is not how it ends... "Trist" will end with a fleeting environment where the bass is very well heard. And then you can replay the entire album again!
In conclusion, Hellsaw is not a «monkey see, monkey do» band. This 2012 album shows that they are determined to reinvent the european scene, they know what they want and what they do. Hellsaw are an ace card in the Napalm's catalogue for sure and I hope that the top-lists at the end of the year don't forget about this austrian black metal locomotive.
Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine
With a name like Hellsaw, one would be expecting some diabolical and unholy music to terrorize their roommates and neighborhood with. That is what this Austrian black metal band has been doing for the better part of 11 years, and their upcoming album, “Trist,” is actually my first introduction to their misanthropic and depraved nature. I may not be the most well-rounded black metal enthusiast, but I do enjoy a decent amount of it, and after my last run-in with black metal that had left a bad taste in my mouth, I most certainly hope that Hellsaw is the remedy to rinse clean with.
Before I listened to this album, I asked a friend of mine who eats and breaths black metal, and was already acquainted with the band. His brief thought on Hellsaw is as follows:
"Hellsaw are pretty similar to Naglfar in terms of playing a catchy and slightly more refined form of melodic black metal." -Joe McFrienderson
On first listen of “Trist,” he is most certainly right. Not only was I getting a Naglfar vibe, but also bits of Belphegor during the more frantic and blastbeat-oriented portions of the music. While I do make these types of comparisons between bands, Hellsaw does a fantastic job of letting the listener know that they are neither of those two bands; that they all somehow stumbled upon the right makings of good black metal and incorporated them all in different ways.
It was a smart move to open up “Trist” with ‘The Devil Is Calling My Name,’ because it has just almost every element you would expect to hear in a black metal album. Starting off with a slower melodic build-up and vocals that sound as if Martin van Drunen (Asphyx, Hail Of Bullets) tried black metal, it lures you into its trap, which has been sprung once the break and furious riff comes at you. You are knocked back by a thunderous and catchy black metal foray that has many weapons in its arsenal. Hellsaw has no qualms about living up to its name with hateful spite in the form of ripping black metal, but they are very good at incorporating the melodic elements into their sound, as well.
As an example, ‘Doom Pervades Nightmares’ has a very slick melodic lead almost instantly, and with the spoken vocals to go with it creates a fantastic atmosphere and at the same time gets your feet tapping. They even go a bit further in the same track, as it has a memorable drum and acoustic/flamenco-style interlude about 2/3rds of the way through to finish out the song. Not only that, but the chorus of ‘The Forerunners Of The Apocalypse’ is incredibly catchy and has been stuck in my head for the past week. There are even pieces of (what I perceive to be) melodic thrash metal showing up in ‘A Winter Cold,’ which was a nice-yet-unexpected change of pace. The members of Hellsaw definitely have some chops, that’s for sure.
“Trist” is filled to the brim with very catchy and original material, making it known that they are not afraid to experiment with different musical elements in their brand of black metal. Their willingness to go further than most black metal bands makes it a refreshing album in its own way when we are constantly inundated with copy-cat black metal bands coming out of the woodwork. While their sound may not be as dissonant and cold as some would like it, you must treat “Trist” with different gloves since you are not going to get the straight-up black metal sound that some people would be looking for. Hellsaw has decided to try and reach across the aisle and bring new fans to their brand of melodic black metal, and I commend them, since that is not necessarily an easy thing to do. My first trip with the band has been quite enjoyable, and I foresee “Trist” both picking up new fans and keeping the already a part of the allegiance to be satisfied with the album. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for new material by Hellsaw.
Originally written for Metal Blast (http://www.metalblast.net/).