Helhesten – Vanquisher of Darkness Review

GenreHeavy Power Metal
Release Date22 July 2019
Record LabelIndependent

Formed in 2017, Helhesten is a band from the northeast of Spain. Their first release to date, the EP Vanquisher of Darkness, displays an honest effort of heavy power metal. Its five songs lack a lot of flare, but each has something different to offer in terms of variety and strengths. Fortunately, from the hard riffs of the titular track to the fantasy-driven finisher ‘Majestic Dragon Ride’, this EP makes for a worthwhile listen.

The first band that comes to mind when assessing the overall sound is Stormhammer, with the main difference being Helhesten’s use of keyboard and more prominent power metal incorporation. Helhesten also offer a bit more clarity in their mixing, which also helps pull them closer to the power metal side of the spectrum.

There are some things that I really like about this album. Shredding guitar solos seem to be the band’s forte, and ‘Sledgehammer’ (which also happens to be the best track on the EP) specifically brings two awesome facemelters. Close behind the solos are the drums, which add some nice details in the background. Additionally, while the rhythm guitar parts are pretty straightforward, the tightness between them, the bass, and drums is great and allows for a very uniform sound.

Unfortunately, as is common with new bands in the genre (or any band, really), Vanquisher of Darkness isn’t perfect. The shortcoming that’s most readily noticed is the vocal delivery in the softer parts of ‘Vanquisher of Darkness’. Fortunately, the vocals really pick up in quality in the screaming parts, as well as ‘End of Time’ and ‘Sledgehammer’, which leads me to the conclusion that vocalist Sergio Beltran is far more comfortable with a lower register or more aggressive delivery than a typical, soaring power metal approach. Aside from a few wonky vocal sections, the riffs could be a little more expressive

With a bit more time in the forge, Helhesten could deliver a really great album. The foundation is there, but Vanquisher of Darkness unfortunately doesn’t hide the band’s amateur status. Some work could be done, both regarding the finer points of songwriting and refining their skill on their instruments, but Helhesten is definitely a group to keep your eye on.

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