Helevorn – A Compendium Of FeelingsThursday, 27th November 2014
Mallorca doesn’t seem to ring any bells when you start discussing heavy metal geography. A small island in the Mediterranean Sea, there’s not a ton of bands rising out of the area. However, one such exception (and the upkeeper of the rule that heavy metal is universal and can be discovered everywhere) is Helevorn. They have paraded their brand of gloomy death/doom for over 10 years at this point.
The band’s most recent offering, Compassion Forlorn, is an excellent work of solemn moods and powerful melodies. Not a band content with pushing out new material every year and a half/two years, the band makes sure that they keep their focus of writing emotive material. We were able to shoot some questions off to guitarist, Samuel Morales, who filled us in on the changes to the band over the years, their approach to songwriting, and more…
Dead Rhetoric: You started out with female vocals and a less heavy approach, what made you decide to go in a more aggressive route?
Samuel Morales: In 2002 we decided to give the vocal work only to Josep, and we started changing our point of view of gothic doom, trying to be more aggressive and powerful, I think that was the natural evolution of the band. Our idea of Helevorn from the beginning was to have strong guitars and drums and a clear atmosphere created by keys and vocals. Compassion Forlorn describes perfectly what we were looking for and is the natural progression since the previous Forthcoming Displeasures album.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel the band has changed over the years?
Morales: When we started with the band we didn’t know much about how a band works, so on those years we have changed a lot in many ways. The most important changes I think that are the way that we compose the songs, we records a demo of the songs to work with and make changes on it, I think that is more effective than starting to play riffs without sense till we find one that fits with the one before. Also in our sound we have a clear image of how does the new song has to be, just before we start working on it, we use to speak a lot and discuss about what direction has to go the new song, what feelings we like to express. Helevorn is a really democratic band in that way and songs are 100% agreed by all six members.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe your sound to someone who has not heard the band?
Morales: Helevorn is a compendium of feelings, being sad is not our way; we are disappointed with humanity. We express our deception for what human being is doing to the planet, to our self and been part of it. We want to express how false is our existence and how hypocrite is the human race. So if you want a different way of being angry, this is your band!
Dead Rhetoric: Helevorn doesn’t really stick to the traditional 2-year “release-tour-release” approach of many bands. What do you guys do between albums?
Morales: We really don’t like pressure to write our material, we like to take plenty of time to record demos and try them at home and see if the new songs reach our feelings. We are working hard on that. Compassion Forlorn has been released 4 years after Forthcoming Displeasures and we had been waiting long to get it out because BadMoodMan/Solitude Prods had a schedule and our new album had to wait for a little bit, so technically there were 3 years after our last release, so that was not too bad.
Dead Rhetoric: You utilized Jens Bogren for the new album again. Was it an easier process this time around?
Morales: Jens always makes things easy, he is a great professional. We met him in 2009 for the Forthcoming Displeasures recording so he knows the band very well and he knows what Helevorn has to sound like. This time we contacted him and asked him to master the new album so he just told us, “send it to me, I need only a few days to finish with Iron Maiden before starting with Helevorn”.
Dead Rhetoric: Having started the band with female vocals and heading away from that direction, what made you decide to bring in Lisa Cuthbert for “Els Dies Tranquils?”
Morales: When we started working on Compassion Forlorn we thought that it would be really nice to have one song with some female arrangements. We love bands with female vocals, like Theatre of Tragedy, Draconian, Sirenia… but this did not fit on our idea of Helevorn. “Els Dies Tranquils” is the perfect song to make that and Lisa is the perfect voice so we started working on that. We are very happy with the result, it is my favorite track of the album!
Dead Rhetoric: You also used a male choir on parts of the album; where did the decision to include this come from?
Morales: When we were practicing those parts at the rehearse room, we thought that only one voice will not work as we want, so Josep started working on those choir lines for the studio and when we listened the complete idea we knew that would work perfectly. So he asked some friends from a male choir that he knew before, and they agree to collaborate with us and was a really nice experience.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you explain the significance of the cover art for Compassion Forlorn?
Morales: As you can see there is an old woman, she is the Compassion and she knows that we, the human race, need to recover our piety, so she removes her heart to give it to us and save us from this emptiness that we are all in.
Dead Rhetoric: You released a video for the song “Burden Me,” could you explain the concept behind the video?
Morales: The same as the cover, the video from “Burden Me” tells the story of someone different; the only one that is still having compassion and tries in a little way to change this but he can’t. Nobody helps or nobody wants to see the truth of what we surround ourselves with. So one day he started changing to be more compassionate.
Dead Rhetoric: Being from Mallorca, is there much of a metal scene there?
Morales: We have plenty of good bands here and lots of different styles but is not a real “scene”, were bands are friendly and everyone wants to help each other. In fifteen years only twice have we been told to play here in gigs organized by another band. We hope that this will change soon, now we have interesting new and young bands like Toxic Army (Industrial Metal), Trallery (Thrash Metal), Devouring (Death Metal), Battlehorn (Viking Metal), and Bleed The Man (Metal) and we are very proud to see our Island getting bigger on that way.
Dead Rhetoric: What does Helevorn have planned now that Compassion Forlorn has been released?
Morales: Try to play live as much as we can, start working on new songs, learn as much as we can from other bands, fans, media, … and of course enjoy of this experience.