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Hellveto - "Neoheresy" (CD)

Hellveto - "Neoheresy" CD cover image

"Neoheresy" track listing:

1. Taran (6:51)
2. Herezja (5:04)
3. Gdy Umiera Swit (3:35)
4. Milczace Sumienie (8:18)
5. Choragiew Ktora Splonie (4:39)
6. Sredniowieczna Egzekucja (6:41)

Reviewed by on February 12, 2009

"It's collection of compelling orchestral elements mixed into heavy black metal tracks with strong pagan themes can easily compete with, and in some cases even beat out, the big boys of the genre."

For nearly 15 years L.O.N. of Polish band Hellveto has been waging a one man war, carrying the standard of underground metal by putting out 23 separate EPs, demos, splits, compilations, and full length albums. “Neoheresy” is the culmination of that massive musical career. Its collection of compelling orchestral elements mixed into heavy black metal tracks with strong pagan themes can easily compete with, and in some cases even beat out, the big boys of the genre. Without prior knowledge of Hellveto’s line up, a black metal fan would be seriously hard pressed to tell that this wasn’t a full band with orchestra back up.

“Taran” opens the album with the clopping of horse hooves and the sound of a clinking saddle. It’s clear that these riders aren’t plodding through a fantasy forest, but rather are furiously pounding towards a battle. The perfectly balanced layered guitars, one providing melody and the other brutality, lead the charge and keep the song flowing towards the clash of the coarse and jagged growling vocals. The guitar parts in general go down unexpected melodic avenues that would at first seem at odds to the standard freezing cold black metal riffs meant to cause sonic death. Even though they are less crushingly oppressive than what many other bands use, they still keep up the necessary power and potency to maintain the important sense of vehement wrath.

The biggest draw of “Neoheresy” is how well the songs, and each of the components within the songs, flow together. Even when raging screams and heavily distorted guitars shift into folksy synthesized interludes, everything still sounds like it fits. The songs all have an overall structure that knows exactly where it’s going and how it needs to get there, and woe to anything that gets in the way. Symphonic arrangements aren’t new to black metal, and certainly not to pagan metal, but here they lend the epic feel without becoming overblown or losing their believability. There is no posturing to be found in these songs, and no addition of unnecessarily over-the-top elements to create a specific look or cater to fan’s expectations. The opening of the second track, “Herzja,” uses the synth sounds to offer a strong cinematic presence, again going in a direction that indicates armed confrontation, and then adds in guitar picking done in a fast and off beat manner that makes it sound more like an ethnic Sitar. The eight minute saga of “Milczace Sumienie” also features numerous non-metal elements and loads of effortless transitions that keep all ears intently on the music.

The album does have a few flaws that keep it from immediately reaching perfection. At only a half hour in duration it’s length is closer to an EP than a full studio album. As with most black metal acts, the production also isn’t as great as it could be, although it is surprisingly well done for a one man band. Some fans crave lower end production to provide a wall of sound though, so whether it’s a positive or negative aspect will be open to interpretation. The vocals are a little lower in the mix than the other instruments, but again not so far as to ruin their effectiveness. There are also a few instances when the drums drop back into default blast beat territory, which can get a bit monotonous.

“Neoheresy” absolutely nails the sound of underground black metal and goes to a whole new level with its many operatic influences. Hopefully release number 23 isn’t the last that Hellveto has to offer, as this could be the one that jettisons the band out of obscurity and into infamy.

Highs: Great orchestra elements that flow with the songs, unique guitar melodies, lack of evil posturing

Lows: A little short, and has a slightly muddy production

Bottom line: Underground orchestral black metal that deserves mainstream success

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)