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Mournful death/doom. - 80%

Gorger 77, December 20th, 2015

Spanish Helevorn has released albums with a 5 year span until now, but I for one won't mind if they picked up the pace a notch. Not in the music, though!

The music they perform on Compassion Forlorn is mournful death/doom with gothic vibes, which alternates between leaden and feather-light in expressions. Just like a main character in a dramatic play can alternate between hopelessness and glimpses of hope, the music shifts between gloomy tunnel-sight on existence, and portions of positivity. The music has a hint of catchy kindness, whilst not becoming directly poppy.

Don't be alarmed by this "gentleness". Beautiful compositions prevents simplicity, and a rich and full sound where metallic punch gets reinforcements from piano and violin strings, helps to strengthen a massive expression. The clean vocals are very clean, but also natural and well sung in a manly manner. Moreover, there's enough growls to make the plasterwork crackle and sprinkle from the walls.

Compassion Forlorn, as both cover art and album title suggests, traverse a landscape of brokenheartedness, by following pats once made by the British pioneers that fans of death/doom know all to well. Helevorn opens with soaring guitars that soon drowns in the delightful resound from a full production. And I do mean that the sound is rich and alluring.

Just like the genre originator, the Spanish sextet realizes the importance of strong melodies, both to stand out and to avoid being forgotten. I would say that the melody lines applied holds a fairly high quality. They carry the songs well, but few of their hooks are strong enough to remain in the mind for a long time. Unless you, unlike me, take your time to revel in their grieving univers again and again and again.

I won't hold that against them. Few are they who are able to compete with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. Whether calm as thee autumnal breeze, or bitter and resentful as a hostile gale in pace, whether they express painful grief, apathy, or even glimpses of hope in the end of the tunnel, Compassion Forlorn is an album that impatiently and restless visits all murky areas within the framework that constitutes the borders of this genre. And everywhere they go, I long to follow, for even if it is a display of sorrow, it's also an exhibit of beauty.

Compared to their first album, Fragments, this album is much more professional in every aspect. Songwriting, performance and sound. Their sophomore full-length, Forthcoming Displeasures, was however on par with the best within the genre. Thus I should have found it difficult to choose a favorite between this album and its predecessor. I prefer this album, but that's just because I've heard it more.

All in all, this is a very good album with strong melodies and rich sound. Compassion Forlorn just might be considered the best from Helevorn thus far, but it may also be a tie. Nevertheless, this is beauty in darkness.

Originally written for Gorger's Metal (http://www.gorger.org/)
Stream available here: http://helevorn.bandcamp.com/album/compassion-forlorn