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Don't believe all the hype here. With this release, "Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties" I was hoping for a genuinely occult oriented slab of raw black metal mixed with doom that might vaguely use the Qliphoth and the Tree of Knowledge as an even loosely executed type of conceptual ploy for some heady and some philosophically and spiritually dark musical material.
Hellvetron did not really accomplish this in my opinion, as this 25 minute offering feels a bit stunted and juvenile to me in it's approach. If it is seriously meant to be considered an LP it could have been fleshed out and expanded on considerably, but at the same time, I don't know if I can really imagine this going on for a duration exceeding much longer than what it does in the form it's in as heard on this. So from this what I take from it is that I don't know if Hellvetron are really ready yet as a band to take on such a serious aesthetic and conceptual undertaking with what they're presently capable of doing as a band.
In the same sense that bands like Xasthur and Black Funeral always seem to consistently miss the mark every time, Hellvetron's debut full-length is imbued with a similarly amiss consistency and overall impression, but I will admit that they are still probably better than both Xasthur and Black Funeral put together, and then some. Hellvetron are not a bad band, and if you listen very closely through the intentionally murky and obscured production value of the recording, you can hear that they are competent enough players with some interesting things to convey. The guitars on here are distant, hollow, and muted-sounding, and the sound Hellvetron achieves in regard to the guitars is mysterious and dark, to say the least. These muted, dead-sounding guitars actually give a lot of room for the keyboards and the vocals to lead the music and take a more commanding role than is usual. The keyboards add a sorrowful desolation as they literally seem to howl in the back of the mix, and help create a very ancient feeling of longing and dread as they haunt you.
So while this is atmospherically impressive in some ways, it is conceptually insufficient and greatly unrealized. The songs have very little dynamics and do not achieve any grander scheme or summoning of power throughout the course of it all. The whole is not greater than the sum of it's parts - and the sum of it's parts themselves are simply made up of the few audial elements that they are comprised of: some sickly, dissonant droning guitars, bass, drums, howling keyboards (the best element in my opinion), and shrieked black metal and low doom metal vocals. However, I think that if Hellvetron took this embryonic spark of potential gnosis they could quite honestly tweak it, feed it with the power of daemonic evil and the forces of darkness, and emerge with something more potent and moving the next time around.
A band that plays very much in this same general style but does it even better is Gravecode Nebula from Salt Lake City, Utah. I recommend that anyone who's into Hellvetron check them out as well as they play some soul crushing black/doom metal that is even more capable and worthy than this is.
If there is one big positive we can take from the revival of Old School death metal over the last seven years(give or take), it would have to be the birth of "Occult Death Metal." Influenced heavily by New York legends Incantation and Immolation, as well as a diverse group of death and black Metal bands from the early and mid 90's, "Occult Death Metal" remains somewhat of an enigma: it's not really a genre, and the bands who often fall under the label are very diverse stylistically. The ties that bind these modern acts together are esoteric and misty, but one word always appears in every bio, blurb and review for these acts: atmosphere. Specifically, a primary focus on atmosphere and emotional intensity over "riff-salads" and guitar solos. The music these artists create is often lo-fi and organic, in an effort to invoke the old, rotten spirits of the Earth. And that's exactly what Hellvetron are attempting to do on Death Scrolls of Seven Hells and it's Infernal Majesties: summon the unknown into the light, so that it may devour willing and unwilling souls alike. Hailing from Texas, Hellvetron fit about as perfectly into the "Occult Death Metal" movement as any artist I have heard. So much so in fact, that Death Scrolls might just be the birth of a genre: the first real occult death metal album, sans quotation marks.
That's not to say that Death Scrolls is massively different then anything you might have heard before. The specters of Incantation, Imprecation and Beherit loom over the entire recording, and modern acts such as Grave Upheaval, Antediluvian, Sonne Adam and Muknal have also touched on many of the dark, twisted themes that Death Scrolls does. Yet this album does have a claim on being the first true occult death metal album, because the focus is 100% on atmosphere and texture: pulling individual riffs and sections from this light-devouring void of madness defeats the purpose of the compositions, which are built from the ground up to evoke specific emotions of dread and demonic possession. After a dozen spins of Death Scrolls, I never once found myself even lightly bobbing my head or commenting under my breath about "nice riffs." That's not to say that the album doesn't have them, or that it's rhythmically spastic, only that everything about the album is nefariously designed to be atmospheric and textured. The riffs and drums are buried under a mile of reverb, while the tempos remain slow and hypnotically focused. The compositions are also dense and busy, featuring loud, powerful vocals and extensive use of ambient keyboards and noises, while the bass is overwhelming with it's low-end intensity. The ambient sounds in particular are my favorite aspect of the album, and with more and more bands making use of them, they still stand out here because they are used appropriately and only for maximum effect. Death Scrolls is an album meant to be experienced more then merely listened to, which is partly why I don't find it quite as awe-inspiring as many of the albums released by Hellvetron's peers.
Hellvetron have taken the ratio of "pure insanity" and "listenable" and thrown it completely in the direction of screaming nightmares. Which is not a bad thing, it merely makes Death Scrolls an album with a time and a place to be enjoyed. If you plan on summoning some ancient atrocity against God in your dank, smelly bathroom, I could not think of a more appropriate album to have ominously proliferating shadows in the swell of incantations and smoke, but beyond these moments(we've all been there), Death Scrolls is just not every day listening. It's an album that demands being started and finished all in one sitting to really make any impact, so just casually picking out a single track to play for a friend or to throw on a play list is utterly pointless.
Death Scrolls is a fine album regardless of it's limited use: it fits all my personal desires for death metal, as it is nihilistic, atmospheric, fresh and strongly rooted in it's thematic purpose. And no doubt fans of the "Occult Death Metal" movement will greatly enjoy this album. The atmosphere is effortless, the intensity is sky-high and the evil simply overwhelming. Hellvetron achieves every single goal it set for itself on Death Scrolls, and my future forays into the unknown in the search for ancient secrets will have a new soundtrack.
originally posted at http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/
Wow, this record was not what I was expecting at all. I know the band had been kicking around in the underground for a few years but I had never heard any of their music. Needless to say this was much more a dark beast of an album than I thought I was getting when I picked it up.
It is being released through Hells Headbangers a solid underground label with a reputation for putting out both great and terrible underground black and death metal bands. I was leaning toward this being a not very impressive record, it being their first release and all, but the killer cover image drew me in. And man I am glad I did.
This is far from your typical standard black or death metal fodder. This is a band that doesn't reinvent the wheel, but mangles the hell out of it so it is forced to slowly and painfully continue down the pathway to hell. Thats the best way I can think of to describe this monstrosity of an album. While predominately a black/death album there is a heavy doom presence on this album which adds a nice layer of evil and grit. Add to that some decent riffing and vocals reminiscent of the most recent teitanblood release and you have a pretty good idea of what your getting here.
In summation this album isn't going to start some new trend or blow away everyone who hears it, but it definitely has a place in my collection. It also makes me hopeful for the future as this opening step is quite a beast, and I think all of us underground black metal freaks should keep an eye on this band in the future. Killer vibe, killer record, and it sounds like it was recorded in some underground torture chamber, a definite plus in my book. Get your hands on a copy of this and play it in late at night in the dark to get the full effect.
Hellvetron, a black metal band originating from the United States, have definitely surprised with their debut full-length entitled “Death Scroll Of Seven Hells And It's Infernal Majesties.” They’ve been around since 2004 and seemingly came out of nowhere, after having released only one demo in 2005, with this full-length, an album that isn’t quite what you’d expect from a black metal album. On top of everything, it has an incredibly evil, sluggish doom-laden sound, the ‘black metal’ part being merely an insignificant underlying theme.
A way to describe them would be if you put members from Teitanblood and Bethlehem together to create an album. This isn’t very accurate either, though, since it doesn’t feature the furious blasting that Teitanblood pull off, whereas it shares, primarily, only the ‘dark’ factor with Bethlehem. What these three bands do have in common, however, is an incredibly doomy ambiance (Teitanblood slightly less, they are similar mainly in production value and general evilness.). Hellvetron are far from being your stereotypical black metal band; rather, they generate some of the doomiest sounds every to have been emitted from an alleged black metal album. Their riffs are composed, usually, of long, foreboding and creepy notes that are allowed to resonate for a while; these chords having a very atmospheric effect, along with the strange chants that sneak in the background on occasion. The guitars are very low in the mix, their main focus being to turn up the demonic vocals and drown out everything else, resulting in a dark and ominous sound. There is little variation throughout the album, with the exception of the occasional tremolo passage that serves but only to produce a strange effect on the ear; a far off, distant echoing.
I can just imagine the two members in Hellvetron getting together and making a pact to never, ever speed up the tempo in their songs. There is practically no variation in regards to speed, causing the music to sound constantly downtrodden and droney. The production provokes the listener to imagine the recording process having been performed in a dark, empty chamber of sorts, with Lovecraftian creatures slithering about on the floor and candles lit on the walls surrounding the empty cavity. The album is monotonous both in its guitars and the drumming, of which the latter hardly plays a roll in the overall development of the music. The drums are always at an unbearably slow speed, causing little effect, merely serving to back up the guitars and the vocals. The vocals are growling snarls that almost never cease to howl what I can only imagine are some of the darkest lyrics ever to be scrolled down on paper.
“Death Scroll Of Seven Hells And It's Infernal Majesties” is certainly a peculiar, tormenting experience that will leave any listener feeling hopeless and forlorn, desperate to claw out of its merciless, sluggish hands that will pry you down to the ground; yet feeling strangely fulfilled and at the same time, empty. It is a hard album to tag a specific rating to, simply because of its vast strangeness, and it’ll leave people feeling uncertain of what to think of the album as a whole. All in all, a decent and worthy listen.
What I love about an album like Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties is how you go into it expecting one thing and then come out having experienced a different sound. The logo, the din of the red and black cover with its draconic, 7-headed abomination and the title all read like a pretty standard occult black metal experience, and there'd be nothing wrong with that, but Hellvetron surprised me with their sluggish, evil blackened death/doom pacing and the effective revulsion of Alal'Xhaasztur's monstrous growls and snarls. This guy sounds like he's howling out proclamations throughout crimson stained skylines and cavernous depths of the Seven Hells, amplified enough that all the tortured and damned cannot escape his edicts regardless of their individual, eternal punishment. And I don't think he's announcing the next ham & bean charity supper over in the city of Dis...
But a diabolic front man would be nothing without the support of the music itself, and here the Hellvetron also succeeds. Ominous, drudging beats are laid out below the raw, filthy guitar tone. Doomed, drawling chords are interspersed with primordial late 80s death metal tremolo guitar lines which occasionally scale into a higher register like redeemed souls that are on the verge of escaping the conflagration until they are suddenly jerked back down by their horned and hooved tormentors. Haunted, brooding chants and other atmospherics are asserted liberally wherever they can exponentially improve the sheer horror of the spacious, reverb saturated gutturals, and let's get something straight: you will not come away from this album smiling unless you are one of the sickest fucks in all Creation. It is the stuff of pure nightmare, just as subterranean and menacing as any of the 'cavern core' Incantation clone death metal, and the Old Testament-rooted darkness of the titles and lyrics make it all the more harrowing and 'ancient' in tone.
Occasionally songs like "Abaddon - Wings of Perdition" and "Gehinnom - Hellwomb of the Impure Hag Queens" come to these points where they seem more calamitous and less structured that the surroundings, with more off-kilter drum fills and no central riff to drive the funereal burden, but even then they never drag down the writhing, crawling torment of the vocals. The fact that the album is about 25 minutes long also doesn't hurt, since you'd generally associate this sort of slower paced project with mind numbing, repetitious torture and 10 minute 'compositions'. Hellvetron turns this and several other assumptions on their sides, and then violates them with an inverted cross until they scream 'uncle'. I can't say that I was gripped by the actual riffing through much of Death Scrolls, since its secondary to the arching, foreboding atmosphere, but its antiquarian horrors should earn it much praise, or at least conversation. With stuff like this and Bahimiron coming out of Texas, who knows what lovably disgusting, ungodly beast the Lone Star State will turn loose on us next...