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Grindcore has never been my thing. I don’t get all fired up for a Napalm Death album. I know who Shane Embury is, but it’s just because of the way he looks (and he guests on this record). It’s just not a genre for which I, as a metal aficionado, have a taste. However, for some reason, Nasum was always one of those death-tastic grindcore bands that worked for me, and “Helvete” has always been an album I’ve immensely enjoyed.
This album is everything one would expect from Nasum. It’s loud, aggressive, relentless grind complete with sociopolitical lyrical content and more grooves than you would know what to do with. They find a way to make 22 tracks fit perfectly in the span of 35 minutes, and they always manage to bludgeon your ears and make you like it for every second.
First and foremost, the production is fantastic. The guitars are massive and so extremely gainy that it can even be hard to pick out exact riffs at times, but the sounds matches the overall fury of the album so well you can’t complain. The times where Mieszko turns up the precision, however, are the moments when the songwriting and riffing really shine.
Even though the majority of the songs on this album don’t come remotely close to topping two minutes in length, there are an incredible number of catchy and memorable moments. This is truly an album for the minimalist. Unlike countless other bands, Nasum doesn’t attempt to sneak in any fluff or filler here. They just hit you with blow after blow of elite grind riffing, and I absolutely dig the shit out of it.
They do happen to avoid many of the pitfalls of deliberate short songwriting as well, as tracks not just short for the sake of being short. Musically and lyrically, I feel like “Helvete” is one of the few albums that I own which legitimately strives to express something profound. The approach the songwriting takes, in the end, is simple and to-the-point. They say what they have to say and move on.
As fans of metal in general, we all know all too well that lyrics are not necessarily a typical metal band’s strong suit. Usually, lyrical content ranges from broken English nonsense to Norwegian nonsense to perfect English nonsense and everything in every language in between. Lyrics have always been charmingly stupid and devoid of any realism for the most part, and we will always be fine with that. The thing for which I always gave the utmost respect to Nasum was their intelligent hatred. Lyrically, Nasum could express their feelings toward social injustices and political downfalls better than any news outlet. They didn’t use flowery vocabulary or deep metaphors. They just called it like they saw it.
I miss Nasum. Just as I was getting into them, Mieszko Talarczyk was tragically taken away from us by that tsunami in 2004, but at least his legacy left behind by works like this will grant him and his band immortality. These guys were as elite as any band can ever be, and “Helvete” is one helvete of an album.
If 'Human 2.0' was Nasum's transitional record, 'Helvete' represents them firmly on the other side of the fence from where they started. This is really the album where the band abandoned the most brackish and raw of their grind roots in favor of a much more melodic, grooving style. Plenty of this was present on 'Human 2.0', but here nearly every song has something fairly accessible going on- a far cry from the band that released 'Inhale/Exhale' at one point.
This isn't to say that 'Helvete' is weak by any means- hell no! Nasum has been a strong band throughout their career and this album is no different. Embracing hints of sludge and thrash amidst their style of modern grind, Nasum chooses to change up their formula by adding more dynamic tempos, rhythms, and melodic styles to their established sound. A certain hard rock influence is present on songs like 'Scoop' or 'Just Another Hog', where the blasting and grinding mayhem is frequently abandoned in favor of grooving riffs right out of the Polish grind 'n' roll scene. There's plenty of Nasum's custom variety of chaotic blasting and shrieking, but it's used more sparingly, rarely forming the bulk of songs like it would on albums previous. Grind has become an accent, really.
To be honest, this album does drag a bit in the middle third for me; while the number of ideas has expanded, it feels like there's only one mode for a lot of them, with fairly similar riffs being found in multiple tracks. The rockish sections suffer the most; Nasum knows how to write about two riffs in that style and just changes them a little bit whenever they pop up. That being said, though this may be the weakest Nasum album, it's still a strong release as all of Nasum's best elements are present: the vicious, churning riffs, the throat-shredding vocals, and the technically adept but very brutal drum performance. Yeah, a bit more time in the crock pot might have served this album well, but it's not a big deal in the long run.
So yeah, this might be Nasum's weakest album by a short margin but I don't really think it matters- 'Helvete' is still a must-buy for Nasum fans, though it might be a bit skippable for non-fans. There's enough tracks on here that stick to the brain to make it a great release for fans of modern grind, and some of the more experimental, melodic elements might be a good primer for newcomers to the style. Either way, I can't imagine this disappointing anyone unless you accidentally got this disc in your Agalloch case or something.
Get the FUCK on this train, now. It's leaving. To where? To the lowest bowels of pure hatred, aggression, pain, injustice, suffering, etc. You get the picture. NASUM's 2003's masterpiece entitled "Helvete" is not an inch far from the perfect way in how to translate pure anger into music. You thought Tschaikovsky was a freaking aggressive lunatic sent from hell to torture you and your children and grandchildren forever? Think again-
Now to cut the crap and get to the music. Grindcore is, like all other forms of extreme aggressive music, very hard to do right. The main problem is how to create a sound that is both violent, yet meaningful, not generic-sounding and inspired. Ever since NAPALM DEATH unleashed their violence back in 1982 and evolved from the lame hard/crustcore punk scene into what we call today "grind", the world of music has never been the same. After this evolution through pain and political injustice, this form of music became faster and faster until the human limitation in terms of speed and aggression was achieved. Without the aid of modern machinery you simply can not get any more imposing and fierce as the godfathers of modern grind, NASUM. Sadly, they have ceased to exist, due to the fact that the former guitarist/bassist/vocalist Mieszko Talarczyk (RIP) was killed in a tsunami a few years back. With his death, a hero of the modern extreme music scene passed away, with no apparent heir to carry on his genius work.
"Helvete", meaning simply "hell", lives exactly up to its name. The infernal guitar sawing and fast drum assaults, combined with Mieszko's incredibly imposing screams and guttural deliveries create an audible and authentic form of suffering, exactly the way the fantasy world of hell should sound like, although the main intention of this album is to tell the listener that we are already in our own self made hell. While the average song on this LP is fairly long, for grindcore standards at least, with an expected value ranging from 1:20 to 1:40, every one of them has its own aura and message. Unlike most albums out of every and any genre, there are absolutely no filler tracks and one must perceive this piece of art as a whole to fully absorb the sense of its being. The short songs discharge themselves into the listener's consciousness, freeing him from any little troubles he has at the moment, elevating him to a higher level of perception through suffering, seeing the world through the eyes of a person, whose sole purpose is to point as many fingers as possible to unjust and power-lusting individuals who make this world not worth living in for a great deal of people. On approaching "Helvete" further, we realize that it has lost its own self, since it finds itself as another being. Secondly, it has thereby sublated that other, for it does not regard the other as essential or real, but sees its own self in the other. Simply put, the album transcends itself, becoming pure negativity, induced by the madness of society.
The lyrics on "Helvete" are surprisingly metaphoric and direct at the same time, very much similar to great lyricist of the heavy metal scene, such as NAPALM DEATH's Barney or ROTTEN SOUND's Keijo, which are both best at writing and performing. Even the most trained ear con not comprehend the lyrics on a clear listen, but that's what the booklet is for. The primary funtion of the album are of course not the lyrics, but the musical composition itself. NASUM's songs can be best described as a burst of pure energy, building tension, only to ignite a few seconds after a drum fill or flam. The guitar tone is clearly audible, but of course without any signs of a horrendous overproduction or a hideous soup production. Every riff on this album is as catchy as it is straight and powerful. There are absolute no dull moments of mediocrity or uninspired garbage. Most important of all, there are no breakdown craps or and of that modern "core" rubbish. It's all very manly, direct and ruthless. Easily the best thing since Tschaikovsky or Ravel. If you're into extreme music and you don't know this record, then you have no idea what extreme music actually is.
(written for metal-observer.com)
There was no stopping Nasum, as they set out to improve their track list of songs, rising over the years with blistering fast drum beats, intense riffs to head bang to for hours, and a mix of growling and screaming all thrown together for the grindcore experience of a lifetime. After their success of "Human 2.0", they came blaring back with the release of "Helvete", distributed by Relapse Records, offering some of their greatest work ever to be put on CD.
The overall sound and way the songs are put together, have gone through a change since "Inhale-Exhale", but thats not a bad or good change, either way it sounds amazing. "Inhale/Exhale" had a lot more slower, rhythm tracks, but the way "Helvete" is so brutally hammered towards, is a hell of a lot of moshy, instrumental ballistic riffs (songs such as "Whip", sending you straight to hell with lethal drums and frantic guitars to begin with, then pounds you even deeper along with the rest of the song).
From a lyrical point, their style of writing is mostly based on how the world is going to soon crumble from all the problems it is taking in, and the way lifestyles are living due to media. Each member in the band at the time, would switch between writing the lyrics for the songs that are so well put together. It shows how Mieszko Talarczyk (singer), wrote more about the ending of life and the mysteries it contains ("The Final Sleep", and "Stormsheild") while Anders Jakobson (drummer) wrote about the meaning of being pushed around long enough , and not standing against the lies people can feed you ("Slaves To The Grind", and "The Everlasting Shame" to name a few). Some of their best lyrics are on this CD. Half of these tracks I quote in my blogs for having stunning lyrics that really put an image in your mind.
When being compared to "Inhale/Exhale" or perhaps "Human 2.0", it is your choice to decide what style of music you'd like to lean towards that has been produced by Nasum. "Helvete" and "Shift", both sound alike , which is good, because what "Helvete" delivers, is an intense volcanic eruption of hell all around you, as your ears transfer the sounds of delicious grindcore you want to devour for days. Though, a few of the tracks you will think sound the same, which is true, but that's what grindcore offers, a relentless assault of musical mayhem, conjured to ask you begging for more.
Overall, "Helvete" is a hard album to be topped by any grindcore band. The amount of time Nasum put into this album really shows, due to the beautifully composed destruction Nasum brought us. Tracks that you MUST check out if you are a fan of grindcore are; Scoop, Relics, Doombringer, Slaves To The Grind (the best song on the album, absolutely the most fierce song ever created by Nasum, the last 12 seconds have an amazing head banging experience like no other), and Whip (2nd best song on this masterpiece).
I don't think I or any of the fans of Nasum will ever recover from Mieszko Talarczyk's death from the 2004 Tsunami... we all shall remember him as the strong force in one of the best grindcore bands in the world. Nasum = The Kings Of Grind.
Helvete is a depiction of anger and all things related. To me, it signifies the best that Nasum ever mustered in the span of their career. Short bursts of violent aggression are what Nasum are best at, but Helvete shows a new side to the band that has damaged the ears of many fans world-wide.
It has a cleaner sound, which is far more appealing as everything can be distinctly heard falling into place. Helvete represents a major high in the career of the band in terms of creative flair and unadulterated aggression produced from fast spinning riffs and hate filled vocals. The latter, the vocals, are vastly improved to me. They are on hand whenever needed to add a bit more venom to the music. Whenever the music lets up to produce a softer riff, the vocals are already prepared and ready to come back in and spice things up. As pleasing as they are, they aren't the main positive from this record. That aspect simply has to be the countless solo's and heavily distorted riffs of anguish and political poison.
Despite being the shortest full-length the band released during their time, it's the most fulfilling. In the past the lengths of the songs have been considered a problem. Just as a song was seemingly getting started and hitting it's stride, it would end abruptly. This isn't the case on Helvete. Songs are as long as they need to be to put the point across. They're short, sharp and intense.
Each song, apart from the fillers, is played out with extreme precision and this is due to good musicianship, which was an element that was perhaps lacking in the past. Nasum have seemingly caught up with their music. It was as if they were too fast for their own good on previous full-lengths. Whereas certain aspects of Nasum's approach may have seemed rushed in the past, they're spot on in this instance.
Although Nasum have seemingly grown in confidence and musical ability, the short duration of the album may put some people off. Grindcore is a genre that appeals to a certain type of audience. It's the kid brother to death metal really. The vocals may be a turn off to the audience. I quite enjoy them, but that doesn't mean to say everyone else will.
They're not typical of the death/grind genre, which I think is a good thing, but it might not be viewed that way by all. They may seem far too insolent and daring for such a genre. The incredibly heavy distortion may act as a negative as well. It can become hard to focus on all aspects of Nasum's game due to the heavily distorted guitars and this can often drown out the bass. Nasum offer just about as much aggression and anger as one person can take.
Not a bad album by any means, but it has its faults. Nasum return with another blasting dose of Swedish grind, peppered with blastbeats, thrashy drumming, and those faint melodies and grooves that only Swedish grind bands seem to know how to pull off effectively. Unlike some of their previous efforts which were mostly grindcore that went straight for your throat, this album has some more melodic bits scattered throughout (Stormshield) and even a slower number with some quiet sections (The Final Sleep). I definitely hear the hardcore influence the other reviewer mentioned, there are some breakdowns that wouldn't be out of place on a hardcore record, and even the vocals are hardcore-tinged at times, though mostly screaming as usual. A pretty diverse album for them, and the songs where they flex their grind muscles are truly awesome (Bullshit, I Hate People), with riffs aplenty and their usual screams of social and political discontentment. I just hope they keep their experimentation to a minimum, because I personally think grindcore is what these guys do best, and while I'm all for being progressive, there's a time and a place for that, and I don't know if further changing their sound will work to the advantage of Nasum (or any grind band for that matter) in the future, being as it's such a straightforward little musical niche. Time will tell, I guess.
Hardcore is the order of the day for Nasum. In fact, if they head down this path too much longer I'd say they'll no longer meet the criterion for inclusion on this site. Continuing down the path set about on Human 2.0, Nasum continues to tone down the grindcore side of their sound and increase the hardcore. The vocals are for the most part entirely hardcore style, and the music while fast and intense at times does not contain nearly the intensity found on their earlier album Inhale/Exhale. The songs have gotten much longer than on their past releases. Here two minute songs are the norm unlike their first album where there were only three tracks that passed the two minute mark. There is a lot more experimentation with typical hardcore elements on this album, including a wider usage of breakdowns. I find the change a real disappointment. However, I don't find it a bit surprising. Anyone who noted the difference between Inhale/Exhale and Human 2.0 could have expected this type of release. While this album certainly won't win them any fans in grind circles, it's sure to be appealing to hardcore fans and those in search of more accessible grindcore styled music.