In some cases, seeds from tall oaks can naturally get lost, not finding the desired rich soil to grow and in other cases, nature ensures a helping-hand, offering a landscape that’s perfect for a whole new life to stretch towards the sun.
In this case, one such seed, is none other than Erlend Hjelvik, former Kvelertak frontman and now the proud owner of one seriously awesome debut solo album, ‘Welcome to Hel’.
Now that we’ve established Erlend’s former career with his old band, let us concentrate on ‘HJELVIK’ and the albums’ glorious tip of the hat to a more traditional-sounding era of the Heavy Metal genre.
From the get-go, the listener is catapulted into the smouldering battlefields of ‘Welcome To Hel’, thanks to the opening moments of ‘Father War’ and for the duration of [not only this song but the ten tracks that follow] the album.
HJELVIK crafts a monumental call to arms, brimming with passion, riffs, mythology and unashamed Heavy Fucking Metal. His most noticeable Necro-rasp is delivered with a high-resister, [but easy on the ear], as he delivers one sonic blow after another from the excellent ‘Thor’s Hammer’ through to album closer ‘Necromance’ featuring Mike Scalzi [Slough Feg].
Guitar melodies are high in the mix and work perfectly creating a blackened, ominous aesthetic that also has a retro, old-school feel about it.
‘Welcome to Hel’ offers plenty of diversity with shifts in tempo, arrangements and key changes in the most unexpected of places that make for a deep captivation LP that offers more and more with each rotation.
Guest appearances from High on Fire/Sleep legend, Matt Pike [‘Glory of Hel‘] and Slough Feg’s, Mike Scalzi provide an extra bonus, to what is already an exceptional debut.
Erlend has created a sonic ecosystem with ‘Hjelvik’ that has an extremely delicate equilibrium of aggression, sensitivity, melody and huge choruses. By far, one of this years top albums. 4.5/5