Made up of members of Temple of Baal and Arvakh, the French industrial black metal outfit Helel has been kicking out some hideous mechanized evil since 2009, though with only one album out on Debemur Morti to date. With this new cassette-only release out on French label Necrocosm, we get the demo recordings that led up to that album, though it appears that all of the material on this tape is exclusive to this release. If you're a fan of French black metal, these guys hit upon a familiar sound, employing evil dissonances and an arrogant, misanthropic vibe, with tough, martial percussion trading off against vicious mechanized blastbeats.
But as Helel cranks up their blackened warmachine, some interesting nuances start to reveal themselves; as first song "Une Nouvelle Garde" is unleashed, the band demonstrates their sickening power by fusing swarming, dissonant guitars and icy tremolo riffs with smears of cold electronic drone and that furious jackhammer drumming, with a nasty discordant edge becoming more apparent as the song unfolds. On the surface it's carved out of similar stuff as classic necro-mech outfits like Aborym and Mysticum, but Helel give it their own touch by injecting a hefty amount of sideways riffing and extreme atonality that at times recalls fellow Frenchmen Deathspell Omega, while at others offering something much more wretched and cacophonic. They'll also slip out of that pummeling industrial black metal into a weird slow dirge that'll start off like a dopesick Minstry, but then heaves forward into a crushing bulldozer groove, or grind through a vicious Voivodian riff as the drums lock into another one of their stuttering percussive spasms. The album is laced with weird musical samples and loops, bursts of imaginative studio fuckery, bits of creepy piano music, deranged circus organs and orchestral string sections looming put of the violent chaos, glitched-out electronic noise giving way to monstrous tectonic drones, screaming guitar-hero solos soaring over the blackened rumble, and moments where the music will suddenly drop into an intense blast of speaker-rattling churn that sounds more like some ultra low-fi noise rock outfit. Helel's frontman does his part, with a fucked-up performance that sounds like he's totally plastered, his voice shifting from a demented, drooling croak into a legion of sputtering, mewling shrieks, and that unhinged delivery can make parts of this demo sound pretty goddamn insane. Literally insane. There's a woozy, inebriated feel to this stuff, an unhealthy, reprobate quality reminiscent of label mates Diapsiquir. For the most part, Cursed doesn't go too far afield of the classic industrial black metal aesthetic and delivers much of what you expect from this sort of stuff, but the band's depraved vibe and experimental tendencies drag this into harsher, stranger territory.
Limited to two hundred copies.