HelloHeathen – HelloHeathen – EP Review
Life here at the bag can be a lot stranger than you’d figure sometimes…and today is one of those experiences. Behind the scenes, talking briefly with the creative mind driving the HelloHeathen project, let’s just say we’ve managed to cover a lot of ground…pretty much everything you can say in just a few short words that exist between topics like Britney Spears, Black Snake Moan and Jiminy Cricket. In HelloHeathen’s defense it was through my words that we began to first step into a bizarre & crazy conversation…but in my defense, HelloHeathen was the one to keep it going strong.
Let’s just say it was an entire exercise in conversational wit & sarcasm…of at which I was supremely bested by my opponent and leave it at that so we can talk some music…for now…
Anyhow, for some freak reasoning in my brain, all this led to an assumption that I was talking to a death-metal machine from the future and that I was about to watch my speakers disintegrate before my very eyes upon pushing play. To an extremely pleasant surprise…HelloHeathen is making electro-rhythms and melodies that are right up my alley and avenues of personal taste and this debut of seven songs proved to instantly become a delight to my eyes. Kind of like seeing a bad movie in a way…you know, after all the hype and comments have died down and you watch it months later to find out, ‘you know, that wasn’t really so bad after all…’ That innocent but initial trickery of my brain made this music about ten times easier to accept after I realized I was getting chilled-out rhythms and wide-open atmospheres rather than isolated extreme metal in my face.
Well…that and the fact that the opening track “Save Me,” is one of the best experiences into an album or EP that I’ve had this year – that too made it all much easier to accept. Like an incredible blend of Beta Band and Boards Of Canada, this off-kilter & far-away electro rhythm becomes hypnotically intoxicating early-on with excellent textural music-elements, clicks and pulses all working together in extremely clever ways. As an opening to the self-titled effort, personally I don’t think you could ask for a thing more; “Save Me” is like a mythical creature and weaves itself mysteriously through its electro-infused melody as the vocals carry the bulk of the weight and deliver in full on this opening tune.
While I dig on the music and lyrics of the track to follow, “Ash Freak,” the stuttered timings on the vocal-metering made this one a little tougher to enjoy in full. Where the problem comes in, is that the words are so damn good and delivered so well in the tone and style…just wasn’t so sure about their placement all the time. Overall it’s highly inventive in the scope of what it’s reaching for…it’s very subtle-electro really but highly captivating through bizarre innovation and really allows you to listen to a lot going on even in the quietest moments through all the wonderful production elements in the mix.
As you’ll go on to discover through the smooth-pulse of “The Future;” HelloHeathen actually has quite a bit to say. A lot of it is incredibly bleak but incredibly relevant and on-point socially. I really dig the sweet electro-twinkling of “The Future;” it’s an excellent contrast between some warm & inviting sounds and a tough set of realities to come singing their warnings. The recordings throughout these first three tracks are really inventive and just spectacular in sound…the kind of music that makes you grab your headphones to listen close even when no one’s home and you could’ve just turned it up as loud as you wanted to anyway.
“Goodbye” really sends things in a more intense & energetic direction. Personally, I love the hollow echo of the vocals in HelloHeathen and how far away, distant, echoed & reverbed-out they are…but of course what might work for my own scattered musical-needs might not necessarily work for all. It doesn’t vary from its recipe for success very often or take too many chances, and of course is an essential element in the overall style of the HelloHeathen sound…its necessary and required for this particular music, but that similar sound could potentially decide the politics of eardrums quickly once they realize it does stick to a certain tone in delivery. To me…and especially listening to “Goodbye” it almost seems like that’s the last part considered in the music…that it’s almost more of a delivery for poetry and just happens to take place over incredible electro-beats. And incredible they are; there are some massively vibrant sound-switches that take place in “Goodbye” that’ll leave you holding your newly kicked-in nuts with glee.
And for as bleak & melancholy as some of the places this emotionally-laden electro will end up taking you, that melody still finds its way to the music through the added effects on those vocals; and for what it’s worth I think that highly poetical aspect of HelloHeathen is every indication of one hell of a writer back there. Some of these lines are jaw-dropping. If anything…HelloHeathen just needs to trim it back just slightly…the sentences in “Love Is A Noose,” has a little bit of the pacing & metering issues that I found in “Ash Freak.” I’d love to credit it with being stylistic, but I think it’s more of an indication of youth in the project and song-writing in general…sometimes it’s only by looking back to truly examine the music and how it flows that we find there’s a word or two more than we needed to express what we were trying to say. As it stands I think HelloHeathen is getting it about 98% right and that those two extra words often exist and account for that 2% variation on the overall awesomeness.
But yeah…again, if we’re talking lyrics alone…I’m loving everything I hear despite its despair subject matter in flux against the hopeful tones & atmosphere of the music. “Love Is A Noose” is a perfect example of HelloHeathen’s ability to contrast the beauty against the shit-end-of-the-stick-of-life. Excellent ideas in the beat and melody and even though I hear those two words popping up as extra beats again in this track, I love the dreamlike vocal-flow in this song.
The opening of “Please Forgive Me” made me think I woke up in like, a Tim Burton film – or something equally fantastical. The playful rhythm of this track is absolutely catchy…but even better is the beat to come and spaced-out chorus to follow. This track is definitely one of the more dynamic tunes on the EP and really moves along at a killer rate that lines up perfectly with the smile that’s bound to appear on your face. Cause MAN are these HAPPY sounds…and MAN is this lyrically DESOLATE. Again…for myself I can’t help but dig this combination and the way that this music has all come out on this record.
“Brutal Desire” wraps up the new album with similar vibe & sound…again, there’s not a tremendous amount of diversity from song to song in terms of the way they sound, but it’s that cohesive element, which when as captivating as this can lead to a truly unique experience in listening that truly takes you away to another world. Even though HelloHeathen might not be the most positive set of lyrics you’ll discover this year by some stretch – they ARE astoundingly insightful and really well put together. The slow and steady pulse-beat of “Brutal Desire” ends this new recording like the end of a first-life descending from a long jump off a high building through the clouds and down crashing onto the corner of Splattsville & Gutstown. In other words…it sounds completely beautiful along its decent…and absolutely final when it hits the end.
And yes…that implication of ‘first-life’ in that last paragraph refers to my take on HelloHeathen and what’s been accomplished here… I think that this is a sound conquered now; and that the finality of “Brutal Desire” could justifiably also be like the closing off of this chapter…and then on to the next. There’s a ton I love about the HelloHeathen grooves & beats and I can’t wait to see how this project continues to shape itself and evolve in the future to come.
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