Releasing their new album with some bravado only days before Christmas, UK-based metal band Helestios are a hopeful sign that metal is all its guises is set for a fine year in 2021. For a genre which leans so heavily on live performances and galvanising its audience that way, it’s refreshing that an album is proud enough not to try and reinvent the wheel and really concentrates on melody, volume and power.
Perhaps as a result on COVID lockdowns and the like, the new album by Helestios, Your Pain Tastes Good, does indeed sound like an album, not a hastily-assembled collection of tracks they had lying around. Opener Sacrifice boasts a throat sung intro, a tribal feel which mostly lyrically extends through all eight tracks. This is very much “us against them” – who “us” and “them” are rather depends on the person listening and this isn’t an album which preaches to you, rather one that asks you to look at the world around you and do what’s right. The guitar feels almost mournful in the song, entirely apt.
Black Storm picks up the pace with some determined chugging and some really stand-out vocals. There’s never been a lack of virtuoso guitarists or even strong rhythm sections but vocals have routinely let hard rock and metal bands down – not so here with leader Henrijs really taking the reins. It’s almost like having an amazing central defender or goalkeeper – with the confidence he gives to the rest of the band, they can really go ahead and play and enjoy themselves.
The tracks Black Storm and Downgraded World lean heavily on world mythology, an old metal trick but it works. You can certainly argue that this approach really needs to be an all or nothing affair but we’re happy enough with it. More up-to-date commentary comes with Return to Baalbek and an attempted people’s revolution in Lebanon and All Attack, written in support of the Belorussian people. There is indeed some deep commentary going on in the album but even as a slab of righteous progressive metal, it’s a great and extremely worthy achievement.
Helestios – Your Pain Tastes Good
2. Black Storm
3. Downgraded World
4. Back to Where it Starts
5. Your Pain Tastes Good
6. All Attack
7. You Are Free
8 . Return to Baalbek