When the subject of bands from Leeds in the United Kingdom is aired, it is far easier to be reminded of pop bands such Kaiser Chiefs and maybe even Chumbawamba, who once infamously lived in a squat in the city, than it is for heavier acts. Beyond such bands as Pulled Apart by Horses and the now defunct Black Moth, it would be hard to name any other Leeds based bands without the help of a Google search. Add to that bands that are stooped in post-metal stoner and doom, the list would diminish drastically further again.
Thankfully, here to set that record straight, and salvage the situation come Helve, a monstrous quintet, who will quite literally destroy that myth, and leave your soul in tatters. Formed in 2015 and since their spawning, the band have been at work, creating something which is both deep, and demonic, in equal measure.
There are no three-minute bursts of aggression here, or radio friendly pop rock ditties, for you are now in the presence of something epic, where multiple three-minute changes within each behemoth of a track is more the norm. With the shortest track at just over eight minutes in length, and the longest weighing in at almost twenty minutes, over the course of the four tracks, you are given just over fifty-two minutes of sonic oblivion. With elements ranging from broken down ambience to blood curdling, gut wrenching bludgeoning, no corner of your internal being will be left untouched or come out unscathed.
Having been compared to the likes of Amenra and Cult of Luna, Helve really give those heavyweights a run for their money. I would also add Bossk into that mix too, as when it’s heavy, it pushes towards the intensity of the Kentish five-piece as well.
Dark Clouds, the album opener, is where I’m initially pushed towards the Bossk comparison, but it’s a split with Cult of Luna too. After a slow moody post-rock start, which seems to pensively lurch along for a good few minutes, it evolves organically into a more vibrant midway point, where it gains a vocal accompaniment. After an initial plateau of sound all around, I’m not prepared for the abrasiveness which is coming my way.
By the start of the final third, the ambience of the introduction is long gone and replaced by a slathering beast of an evolution. It is this raw intensity which sets those comparisons, and as it continues to roll through in this manner, the hard-edged power truly shines through. As it fades away, there’s barely time to recover before track two, Guns Heal The Sick explodes from the speakers.
With elements ranging from broken down ambience to blood curdling, gut wrenching bludgeoning, no corner of your internal being will be left untouched…
There’s no slow ambient start this time, it’s full on, blood curdling ferocity right from the offset. The harsh and abrasive manner in which it leaves its mark gives me no reason to believe at any point this will ease off either. Even when it does, it never eases in tension, and if anything, in those moments, it’s actually heightened. Vocally, the attack this time is a more spite filled screech, and even when the soundtrack eases off, this vocal fury still packs a punch that will leave a mark.
Bones Of Giants manages to bring the tension down at its inception and dare I say it, a softer, more ambient side to the band shows through. It’s still moody, but not so emotionally heavy. Obviously, this doesn’t last for the entire track, but this time there’s a more gradual progression into the madness.
As it picks up, you get a sense of the urge to quicken in pace, which in itself, leads to the feeling of anxious excitement. The track is compacted by several episodes of this nature, and really shows just how versatile Helve are by flipping between all and nothing with complete ease. For me, it’s the highlight of the whole album, and through its twists and turns, provides a feeling of deep joy inside.
Teeth, track four, comes in at a second off twenty minutes, and boy is this one a rollercoaster of intensity and claustrophobia. When it’s heavy, it’s obnoxious and devastating, and the slower moments drag on to condense that feeling of never-ending suffering, guaranteed to have you pondering your own existence on this planet.
Over the course of the twenty minutes, it splits between crushing break downs, and venomous highs, and by its climax, all that’s left is the remnants of any unspent emotion washing away as the music dies off.
This album isn’t for the fainthearted, it’s a spine-shredding fifty-two minutes of intensity and brutality, all wrapped up within a cacoon of unsuspecting understatement. Don’t be fooled, here be demons, tread very carefully indeed.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish