Friday, April 19, 2013


Hergorn & Hellveto Split
Nimthoron Promotion, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

Hergorn - Under the Sign of Ancient Gods:
1. Modlitwa Do...
2. Mistyczny Czas Umierania Dusz
3. Krzyk Rozpaczy
4. Taniec Kruka
5. Outro
Hellveto - Burning Kingdoms:
6. Intro
7. Screams of Victory
8. Potęga...
9. Windwinter
10. Czas Płonących Pochodni
11. Outro
12. Stony Pride

Side Hergorn: here
Side Hellveto:

After an excellent performance from Hergorn I was eager to hear what Hellveto had in store for us. The first thing I noticed was that the production quality wasn't up to the more recent higher standards and sounded a lot older. Well this material was apparently recorded back in 1999 according to the booklet, so the sound quality is much closer to the "Horned Sky" style.

So, keeping the fact that this is not new material in mind "Burning Kingdoms" is much darker than the prior releases. The prior material usually has an abundance of majesty amidst the dark atmosphere, but here the atmosphere is much more dense than the other recordings. Strangely, I think this is because the keyboard sections are much heavier this time around. The Black Metal guitar sections really take a back seat in the mix for this album and we are just doused in this level of dense fog from the keyboard section. Even the drums become over-powered at times, but that is actually okay because it gives this material a really different take on the Hellveto sound. This is much more of an Ambient/Black Metal style in my opinion. Given how good L.O.N. is  with arranging keyboard pieces, it actually works quite well and it's interesting to hear this old music resurrected from his vaults. "Stony Pride" is also re-released here from the "Winterforest" demo. It doesn't say anything about it being re-recorded, but it does sound a little stronger than the original release.

If you're a Hellveto fan this is definitely worth checking out because of how interesting the music is. The production could be a little better given the way the songs are structured, but it's just good enough for us to follow what L.O.N. had for ideas and the atmosphere he was creating and that's the most important part.

Hellveto - Hellveto
Nawia Productions, 2001
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. Intro
2. ...In a Dream
3. Black Oak
4. Under the Sign of Thunderbolt
5. Zapomniane Zło
6. Night of Gods
7. Lord of Darkness
8. Outro

After the leap in quality improvement from "Medieval Scream" it is no surprise that Hellveto swiftly returns with it's first official release. I realize this is classed as a demo, but I think of this more as their debut album. One of the things that makes this release so interesting is that most of this is material re-recorded from the first demo with some slight track changes. It omits the two songs "The End" and 'Forgotten Spirit" and instead gives us a new track "Under the Sign of Thunderbolt". Despite this it says in the booklet "All hymns taken from demo '96". So, I'm not sure if I should bother believing the web. I also assume a new "Intro" and "Outro" have been recorded for this release.

Delving this far back into Poland's early Black Metal history has resulted in some truly wonderful music. Recently I've been delving more deeply into the early Polish scene and I realize only a fraction of it made it to my door in the early-90's when I started listening to Black Metal. Things were certainly much harder to deal with globally, because there was no internet around, so hearing about bands was up to 'zines and word of mouth mostly. I think the material on "Hellveto" fits in quite nicely in this early scene. Perhaps the original demo was not as well recorded, but aesthetically this is simply beautiful and would have worked in very nicely alongs the likes of Behemoth, Sacrilegium, Veles, etc. Even back then L.O.N. was doing something quite different and added some good ideas to the genre. I think this is one of the major reasons I'm drawn to Hellveto, nothing else really sounds anything like this! Just listen to the majestic sound evoked during "Lord of Darkness"! It really does give off a truly epic atmosphere. Some of the guitar riffs are primitive by modern standards, but even "Black Oak" manages to set the stage for some wonderful imagery. One of the major stand out tracks on here is the new "Under the Sign of Thunderbolt" whose length and epic nature really stand out on this release.

In the end this is a wonderful debut and I'm really glad L.O.N. decided to revisit this material rather than leaving it lost to the annals of history. It really gives modern listeners some insight into what the emerging Polish scene was producing. A wonderful cassette release on the legendary Nawia Productions. I definitely highly recommend checking this album out and I can't wait to hear what's next.

Hellveto - Medieval Scream
Self-Released, 2000 (Cassette)
Ritual Execution Promotion, 2003 (CD)
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. Intro (Niemy Omen)
2. Słowiańska Wyrocznia
3. Knell Of Darkness
4. Jesienna Modlitwa
5. In Forgotten...
6. W Imię Czarnej Chwały
7. Greater Land
8. Strach Zbudzonych Przestworzy
9. Kurpian Phantom
10. Tears of War
11. Outro (Pogański Zmierzch)

Of all the demos recorded by Hellveto, this is the only one that has seen any kind of repress onto CD. I imagine this is L.O.N.'s favorite of his demo days and that's why we saw this pressed officially on CD. I, unfortunately, do not own the original tape edition of this. When I originally discovered Hellveto, I did not realize this had originally been released on tape, so I never really bothered to seek out the original version.

"Medieval Scream" is, at times, quite the upgrade from "Horned Sky", but I can really hear the difference now between his demo work and even material written three years later. With the re-recorded versions of two tracks from "Horned Sky", namely "In Forgotten..." and "Tears of War", you can really hear the progression in his newer music. The re-recordings are really spectacular and give the songs a much deeper dimension with the higher quality recordings. Songs like "Słowiańska Wyrocznia" stand out quite a bit as higher quality compositions and they really have a strong and evocative edge to them. The more recent compositions have a better blend between the guitar riffs and the atmospheric direction of the project.

The big draw for "Medieval Scream" is the general improvement in recording quality. It really let's the music shine through a lot more than his prior releases. The subtle changes of atmosphere between the guitars and keyboards are far easier to see now. Hopefully this is a good sign for future recordings, because this is a very difficult style to pull off seamlessly. L.O.N. seems to constantly be improving his sound, so I'll keep listening to see what comes next.

Hellveto - Horned Sky
Nawia Productions, 1999
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. Black Tear
2. Raventhrone
3. Time of the Ancient War
4. The Sword of Tryglaw
5. Łowy
6. Masacra in the Dream
7. Silence of the Forgotten Ages
8. Night of My Dying Soul
9. Winter
10. Dark Icetime

Another year brings us another Hellveto demo. This time it's finally getting published through Nawia Productions, who also produced Hate Forests demo "Scythia". So, some legendary bands have gone through this label. Hellveto demos probably qualify as outright albums and I would honestly treat "Horned Sky" as the debut album, since it's the first one professionally made.

Due to the professional printing of the booklet, I did expect the music to be done a little better. Compared to "Winterforest" this material is much better. I think L.O.N. has learned a lot about how to engineer his music, because the sound quality is much better. He's also getting a lot more elaborate with the keyboard work, but it's not as seamlessly blended with the guitar work as later Hellveto works will become. On this recording I feel like I can hear the Norwegian Viking Metal style far more prominently than before. There are some sections that distinctly remind me of early Enslaved, where some parts remind me of Einherjer. The Graveland influence is fairly apparent and I think Hellveto is more closely related to that project than any other. While L.O.N. continues to retain that very epic feel to his music, I thought this album turned out to be a lot more relaxing than some of the prior material. The album has a lot of beautiful and lite textures to it, giving it more of a sombre quality than you'd expect from a Black Metal. At least that's true for the first half of this album, because when we get into "Masacra in the Dream" we are immediately assaulted with blasting Black Metal. But this is only brief and the second half of this album settles in with the rest of the material.

Despite the "Black Tear," "Łowy" and "Dark Icetime", keyboards aren’t used on every song; they’re actually used with a fair amount of moderation.  They seem to be used at just the right moments, showing how adept of a songwriter L.O.N. actually is.  When it comes to the Black Metal aspect do not expect some insane blasting Black Metal from Hellveto, but you will get some majestic and very powerful sounding Pagan Black Metal.  Honestly, I’ve never heard a band represent Pagan Black Metal as well as Hellveto.  Many will probably say “but what about Nokturnal Mortum” at this point, but a lot of their “pagan” aspects merely come from the ethnic instruments they use.  Hellveto doesn’t really use that many ethnic instruments as far as I can tell, but somehow comes across with this supremely majestic sound, and one can’t help but think of ancient battles!  It’s sort of like Graveland in that respect.  There are some beautiful clean guitar passages throughout the album and they are, as usual, placed at just the right moments.  I really don’t hear much influence from other bands, except the first part of “The Sword of Tryglaw” sounds akin to Satyricon’s “Dark Medieval Times,” but then that quickly falls away after the first riff sequence is done.  It would seem Hellveto have managed to find a sound all their own amidst all the rip off bands and he did it with just the usual instruments, nothing fancy by any means.

In the end Hellveto treat us to another epic release with some very beautiful passages. I find that Hellveto doesn't really compose songs that are heavily distinguishable, but instead crafts albums with an entire aesthetic. I think this kind of composition works for the project, except that it is quite hard to discuss for me. I quite enjoyed this demo and I think Hellveto is heading in the right direction. I really look forward to see if more improvements are going to be made. I think aspects of the recording process are still a bit more on the raw side than makes sense for this style, but I know this gets fixed as time goes on.

Hellveto - Winterforest
Self-Released, 1998
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

1. First Battle
2. Night of God
3. Ancient Statue
4. I am the Last
5. The Way of My Ancestors
6. Tears of War
7. In Forgotten
8. Stony Pride
9. Second Battle
10. Glory

It's time to start working on one of the larger discographies in my collection.  I can't seem to find the first version of the self titled demo anywhere, so I'm giving up and starting of with "Winterforest".  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to own a copy of this either and I am stuck with downloaded mp3's in 128kbps.  It sounds okay in that format, but I would've preferred to do my own digital transfer like I usually do with my demo tapes... plus then my readers get a larger cover to look at.

"Winterforest" is the second effort in what would turn out to be a highly productive career.  Some say too productive, with multiple full lengths per year, but for me as long as LON keeps up the quality in writing, I don't mind being very productive.  Despite having a lacking in quality I can't help but think that this is a relatively fresh sound.  Sure all the elements have been used before, but Hellveto just has an extremely different feel and approach to writing music.  Due to the recording quality the music feels pretty raw and the guitars are very thin sounding, but the compositions are extremely epic in sound.  There is heavy use of keyboards and to a degree they do drive the music, but not in a typical Symphonic Black Metal way, it's very hard to explain why exactly this runs against the conventional wisdom about heavily keyboard laden bands.  LON has figured out how to blend keyboards and guitar together in a way where they enhance each other in such a way that you don't feel you've lost anything while listening to the music.  Another interesting thing LON does is he doesn't use any traditional folk instruments, but there is no illusion that this is Pagan Black Metal, the music is just that epic.  He doesn't even really use acoustic guitar, he just uses clean electric guitars.

The only way this music suffers is from the production.  Things aren't mixed as well as they could be and sometimes the vocals sound a little weird to me.  There isn't any effect on the vocals like reverb so it feels exceptionally raw.  As I mentioned above the guitars do sound a little thin for the recordings and if this was more of a real studio setting, I'm sure it would have come out differently.  The drums are actually fairly well recorded though and I was impressed by that.

LON is clearly an incredible musician.  Hellveto being a one man project and he's able to write with such clarity is impressive with all the instruments.  This is a band I definitely highly recommend checking out if you have the chance.  If you managed to get a copy of this original demo, consider yourself very lucky!

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