I don’t know how many of you read my review of TOWER HILL‘s debut album. If not, immediately stop whatever you are doing and head to Forgotten Scroll’s review section to get a glimpse at one of the most promising albums of the year. And while I haven’t recovered from the teutonic attack by TOWER HILL, another 80’s-90’s Germanisque metal album comes forth. And yes, I am talking about HELMS DEEP.
Correct me if I am wrong, but HELMS DEEP is the solo project of guitarist/singer Alex Sciortino accompanied by Mike Heller on drums and the LEGEND John Gallagher of the N.W.O.B.H.M. veterans RAVEN. And yes, though the band is based in the United States, their music has deep roots into the European Heavy/Power metal. Somehow the album has two main influences: the 90’s German heavy/power metal and the 80’s post-N.W.O.B.H.M. scene. This means that the songs are riff based (something which I really fall for), with a shitload of melodies, a couple of lead harmonics, tempo-swifts and with a “dark” mood.
Most of the songs are fast with stacatto galloping riffs, that gush out an late 80’s early 90s RAVEN/BLITZKRIEG vibe: check out “Fight or flight“,”Breaking the seal” (worth mentioning that “Arhcitect of Fear” and “Unholy Trinity” are my selections from the RAVEN/BLITZKRIEG catalogue): both of them memorable, inspired and quite heavy.
But HELMS DEEP are much more: “Sorcery“, “Medusa’s Requiem“, and “Headless Horseman” tend to swift into more epic themes something that took me by surpise. Frankly, I hadn’t seen it coming.
There are speed bursts like “Annihilation” or “The keep” that bring forth an early BLIND GUARDIAN/SCANNER/RAGE vibe, you know the good old speed/melodic thrash flirt that everyone with a sense of good taste enjoys. This variety is blended and presented through the bands personal filter. Needless to say that these guys sound as if they have been together for ages.
It would be a shame if I hadn’t mentioned that the cover art was made by another legend: Michael Whelan and the overall sound of the production is smooth and organic, not compressed and piercing.
I loved listening to this album and it surely goes into the “must buy” list. I would urge you to do the same.
Check the discussion about the album in our forum pages.