Thursday 16 April 2015

Review: Helfir – 'Still Bleeding'

'Still Bleeding'

Helfir, the solo project of Italian musician Luca Mazzotta (NID), is heavily inspired by the melancholic tones of acts such as Katatonia, Antimatter, Anathema, Opeth, Alternative4, and Porcupine Tree and reveals a penchant for dark rock and atmospheric electronics in an intensely personal début. 'Still Bleeding' blends, dark, rock, ambient electronics, post-progressive rock, metal and acoustic guitars to create a dark and emotional journey across its nine tracks.

Swirling synthesizers, haunting piano melodies, simple and understated drum beats, acoustic guitar textures provide the main formula. But there are plenty of metal flourishes to drive the album forward and put an exclamation on the gothic leanings of the song writing. Songs such as 'Oracle', 'Dresses Of Pain', 'Black Flame', and 'Night And Deceit' provide the strongest cuts from the track listing with their proggy mixtures of hard and soft instrumentation. While the likes of 'Alone', 'Portrait Of A Son', and 'Where Are You Now?' provide comparatively softer styles, but even deeper and darker sentiments.

The album is excellently produced, and captures the level of skills that bands such as Anathema and Opeth employ to get the most out of their hypnotic and enthralling albums. It's richly layered and decadently toned with lots going on, but it never falls into the trap of sounding like a din of textures with vocals and guitars dominating.

This is a great début from Mazzotta, one that will appeal to fans of gothic, prog and ambient rock, as well as some more of the metal-inclined out there. It balances light and dark, soft and hard with ease and is a strong platform from which to launch a solo career. It would be interesting to see how it would change the dynamics of his song writing and performance to include guest vocalists and musicians on future releases. But in the here and now 'Still Bleeding' is an album that aspires to, and holds its own against some big names.  

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