Total Time: 43:55
Label: Art Gates Records
HELEVENs were formed in 2016 and they hail from Spain. After a very strong debut, their second album “Into The Oceans” was released this year.
HELEVEN’S music is modern and could be described as Alternative Metal. The press release describes them as being influenced by bands like GOJIRA and ALICE IN CHAINS and it could not have given a more accurate description in my opinion.
The Spaniards combine loud groovy parts just like those of the French with vocals and riffs taken straight out of the 90s and the company of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell, a very unique mix I would say. Listen to the opening track “Escape Room” and you’ll understand exactly what we’re talking about. In addition to these two bands, you will also encounter some alternative Prog influences from names such as Devin Townsend and the Danish VOLA – for example, the melodic chorus of the self-titled song with the synths in the background. As the band focuses on the groovy element of Metal, the compositions of “Into The Ocean” are mid-tempo while the vocals are exclusively clean; Another element that makes HELEVEN stand out from other bands of this style who use more brutal vocals.
The lyrics are quite esoteric and contribute to the somewhat dark and claustrophobic atmosphere of the album. The heavy parts are gripping and well played and so are the elaborate solos that complement each composition. The duration of the songs ranges from 4-5 minutes while their structure does not deviate from the more traditional patterns of couplet-chorus. So, the Spaniards may not provide many surprises in the way their music unfolds, but there is a sonic consistency that contributes to the whole concept. In general, it is a well-crafted record and a fairly fresh idea in terms of the sound of the band.
But there is something that stops me from fully enjoying HELEVEN. Listening carefully to the album, I cannot help but see that the vocals are a little further behind than they should be compared to the other instruments with a typical example of “Lesson Learned” where they are buried behind the guitars. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, as Higinio Ruiz’s vocals fall a little short of the dynamism required by the band’s emotionally charged music, making many parts sound a little flat and colourless. Also, the pattern of most songs follows the same style, heavy groovy intro and a melodic chorus afterwards. An exception to this is the very beautiful acoustic ballad “You Were The Wings I Needed To Fly”, the more melodic “Promised Land” and “Broken” where it raises rhythms in the chorus and reminds for a while of ALTER BRIDGE. Finally, their groovy spots are dangerously reminiscent of GOJIRA to the degree of copying sometimes – listen for example to “Mistakes” or “Down” where they use up to the same riff style!
To sum up, we are dealing with a fairly interesting album, with an original blend of sounds and several beautiful ideas, mainly in the choruses. The track that closes the album “Hurricane”, which is also my favourite, is an example of what the band can do if it works a little more its influences and assimilates it into its sound. With a little more confidence in the vocals and with a production that supports them, I think HELEVEN have the conditions to go quite high on the modern Metal scene.
Editor: Dimitris Benetatos
Related Link: HELEVEN – Facebook Page