Album Title: No God to Save You
This is the second album from Helcaraxe, an American band playing death metal.
The production on this record is crisp, with the drums, guitars, and jangling bass right up front in the mix. This is a great choice, since much of the power of this band is in the instrumentation. The solo parts especially benefit from this production, and are completely shredding! The growled vocals are great, too, and are given just enough emphasis here. I really like the occasional use of semi-clean shouted vocals and classical instruments as well!
As on their first record, Helcaraxe plays technical, bass-heavy death metal, jam-packed with insane riffing and complex drum fills. The soloing and vocal work shows a strong sense of melody, a counterpoint to the aggressive rhythms beneath. The songs on this record are a lot longer than on "Triumph and Revenge" -- these are three-to-six minute tracks rather than the two-to-three minute songs which dominated their previous album -- but the songwriting is just as varied as before, with tons of ridiculously over-the-top solos and heavy bass & guitar lines. I think the longer songs are a great change, as they give the band a little more time to explore each theme before moving on to the next. After all, Helcaraxe has a ton of riffs that are actually worth repeating once or twice!
Speaking of which, I can't review this without mentioning "After the Bomb": the tempo changes, guitar lines, and vocal work on this track are exceptional! I really like how the whole thing builds, rushing frantically forward until the quiet middle section stops everything... only to begin again, "after the bomb". Great stuff! Tracks like this take Helcaraxe to a whole new level, as the sense of natural progression and unified songwriting here is the perfect refinement of the shorter songs on their debut.
"No God to Save You" is easily one of the top ten things I've heard in 2008. As a mini album, it's a bit short, but I'll take half an hour of this over 99% of the full-length albums I've heard this year. Anyone who values uniqueness must hear "No God to Save You" -- Helcaraxe is one of the few bands that doesn't sound like anything else out there. Those who like complexity as well as old-school death metal heaviness should also get this immediately! Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Chain Mail", "After the Bomb", "Valor"