after enjoying the single, Garath plunges in to the new Helgrind album.. here’s what he thinks of the bands latest album….
UK thrashers HelGrind return with their fourth full length album ‘Insurrection’, and first since 2011’s ‘Inquisition’. Originally conceived back in 2017, but put on hold due to various reasons, not least label issues, it now finally sees the light of day with re-recorded guitars, bass and vocals. This also marks the first with guitarist Si Ellis, both as a member and as a contributor, forming a formidable writing duo with the ever-present Paula Nelson, vocals and bass, and co-writing much of the album together.
‘Dead Shall Rise’ is an ambitious mini-epic to kick things off, starting with a sinister clean guitar motif and a newsreel reporting the start of what sounds like the zombie apocalypse, building slowly from its humble beginnings, the guitar, bass and drums escalating until around the minute mark the whole band is going at full tilt, in a wonderful thrash/death combination of aggression, with little melodic flourishes and a great chunky middle section. Next up is single; ‘Massacre the Suffering’, with a hint of Araya in the vocal delivery, and a touch of ‘War Ensemble’ in the riffing, but Helgrind are no clones, they are very much their own entity, the melody in the lead interplay is not something that was in the Slayer locker. In fact the level of musicality on the whole of this album is simply phenomenal, every track is chock full of not only technical riffs, but many of the tracks have sections that add a different dynamic into the mix, take the centre pairing of tracks, ‘Not My Enemy’ for example, with it’s majestic middle part, with a quiet acoustic with overlying solo, then a crushing stomp and piercing lead, while the solo section in ‘Breeding Hate’ is just a thing of sheer beauty, with an orchestrated and choral background, almost guaranteed to bring a shiver to your spine.
That’s not to say HelGrind are just a technical thrash band, far from it, they understand when a basic power chord progression, or a simple E string chug best serves the song; and alternate between both complex and simpler patterns for maximum effect. ‘Bitter End’, ‘Harvest’ and ‘Dead Army’ all use that basic blueprint to whip up a 1, 2, 3 punch to the solar plexus, knocking the wind from you, but also raising the adrenaline so you pick yourself back up for yet more punishment.
The last two tracks are destined to be real live favourites, ‘Raise the Flag’ could easily be the successor to Kreator‘s ‘Flag of Hate’, and after its moving bass led intro, there is in fact a nod to the Teutonic legends in the execution. While album closer, ‘HelGrind’ itself, already the live set finisher, is a real old school thrasher, guaranteed to increase the sale of neck braces once the tour commences.
This is a hugely impressive release from the band, I was unfamiliar with their back catalogue and doing my due diligence, I went and listened to all the previous albums, and the ‘Fallen Prophet’ EP, and I can truthfully say, if you’re already a fan, you won’t be disappointed. ‘Insurrection’ touches on every part of their past, from the super heavy, almost sludginess of their debut ‘Denial’, to the more technical thrash of last album ‘Inquisition’, but the biggest similarity is with their second and arguably most widely recognised release, ‘Religious Persecution’, but adding even more brutality, aggression, and yet melodic contrast, to create their most accomplished album so far. This one is for those of you who like your thrash on the most ferocious and heavy end of the scale, and it has already bullied its way onto my end of year list. Superb.
Helgrind ‘Insurection’ us out Friday the 22nd of September, order via www.helgrind.co.uk and Paula and Simon join us on Sunday nights ukthrashers Radio Show on Moshville Radio.