Already formed in 2008, Polish rockers HellHaven, founded by: guitarist and keyboard player Jakub Wegrzyn and bass player Marcin Jaskowiec were opting for their own specific sound. Influenced by heavy metal and hard rock the duo started working on what would become their debut EP Art For Art's Sake. The debut introduced vocalist Sebastian Najder to the band's so far fairly unstable line-up. When in 2012 HellHaven released their first full album; Beyond The Frontier the mentioned trio were the remaining members, with a new drummer and guitarist added. Anywhere Out Of The World seems to continue this steady line with the addition of Hubert Kalinowski as the new guitarist and Łukasz Gregorczyk as new drummer.
Musically Hellhaven plays a form of progressive rock, with post rock elements and hunches of metal. The first hurdle to take when you listen to the album is the overly present accent in Sebastian's vocals. In the basics the opener Anywhere Out Of The World is a pretty nice composition, musically very strong, only the vocals parts are far from convincing. At some point I find some resemblance with Germans In Extremo during the Latin parts, but my first impression is one which gives me mixed emotions. But I was told to never judge an album by the fist track only, so filled with positive vibes the journey continues. Although the following Ever Dream This Man? is a slower, more intense composition, the vocal parts remain problematic. Only, when Sebastian uses a more powerful growl/ scream style voice I seem to see a glimpse of light on the horizon. The spoken parts are nicely done and do add something special to the instrumental parts and to be honest, the trumpet part is brilliant. During First Step Is The Hardest the vocal parts seem to have shifted to the aforementioned screams and growls, something I personally appreciate very much. The balance in the high quality compositions is heading in the right direction. Even the sun starts to set. 21 Grams can be seen as a kind of a spherical interlude for Res Sacra Miser, a nice track that highlights the instrumental qualities of the band, loaded with intense growls and fine soloing. The trumpet returns on They Rule The World and so does the In Extremo meets Orphaned Land reference. Let's just forget about this one. Much more interesting is Overview Effect, musically again a very fine track, vocals that are fine during the choruses. The whispering vocal parts during On Earth As It Is In Heaven are OK, but during the album I have grown a bit annoyed, beautiful compositions are being downgraded by the vocal parts. Even the final track The Dawn & Possibility Of An Island can't change my opinion anymore, although the vocal parts are fairly accessible during this final song.
As a conclusion I can be very short on this review; HellHaven is a brilliant band in the instrumental aspect, but gets downgraded by a poor vocal performance. No Offence, but I could consider another line-up change. Not the new drummer and guitarist, please.
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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