Hellsaw – Trist (Napalm Records)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Black metal bands are smarter than we give them credit for. They do a better job of disguising their influences than most; able to mask their variousmusical deficiencies by slapping them together like a BLT sandwich. In turn, a band like Austria’s Hellsaw has come to master this approach and on their fourth album Trist, they manage to squeak out a half-dozen songs that skim the bounds of virtually every style of Scandinavian black metal.

The band has a large disposal of aching, dissonant riffs at their disposal, and right off the bat on “The Devil Is Calling My Name,” Hellsaw creates a creepy, crawling atmosphere via a droned out main riff that heads off into the cut of blast-happy BM. “Sorrow is Horror” and “Doom Pervades Nightmares” follow suit, with the latter being one of the album’s better cuts thanks to a barrage of ominous riffing and a pace that would suit early Burzum quite well.

Hellsaw tries its hand at rocked-out BM on “The Forerunner of the Apocalypse,” and melodic black metal on the title track, and album closer “Silence,” a song that is the biggest departure from the album’s nine tracks. In fact, “Silence” eeks out almost a positive and harmonious tone, one that is too sunny for black metal and is highlighted by singer Aries’ cries of “I long to be free.” Easily the album’s high-point and a sign of how mal-formed and effective Hellsaw’s approach to black metal is.

Like their 2009 album Cold, Hellsaw with Trist managed to churn out a redeemable, but hardly inventive affair. As much as black metal needs more break-out bands, it also needs bands like Hellsaw, who appear to be more than comfortable holding up the style’s grand traditions…by not breaking from tradition.

www.hellsaw.com

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)