Review: “Insurrection” by Helgrind

Celebrating 20 years of mayhem, underground Thrash legends Helgrind have returned from the depths of the abyss for “Insurrection“. The record comes almost a decade after its predecessor in 2011’s “Inquisition” and marks the first writing collaboration between vocalist and bassist Paula Nelson and guitarist Si Ellis as they looked to create a new record as a rebirth while at the same time revisiting 2008’s “Religious Persecution” for style references. A testament to the bands determination to make the record happen, with the exception of drums, which were recorded in Portugal by Arlindo Cardoso, the recording of guitars, bass, vocals, as well as mixing and mastering were all done at the bands own home compounds. The ‘Insurrection’ album artwork was created by Indonesian artist Five Miligrams (illustrator for Possessed, Shadows Fall, Napalm Death), who brought Paula Nelson’s concept to life – a demon sitting in the mercy seat, being worshipped by fallen angels; with disciples impaled on spikes and Christ burning on an inverted cross. For those who don’t know, Helgrind or “Death Gate” is the gate that separates the land of the dead from the land of the living in Germanic mythology…

…At least some of these songs have been around since 2017 with the likes of “Massacre The Suffering” appearing in the bands set at Thrashersaurus Festival in 2018 and so as a  record “Insurrection” is at least four years in the making. The London quartet waste no time in getting straight to the point with “Dead Shall Rise“, introducing it with a news report style sample over the top classic 80’s nostalgic Thrash riffs that offer up flavours of Testament with some stunning extended solos and melodic lead work that sets the fretboards alight with blistering dexterity and speed. The aforementioned “Massacre The Suffering” follows along very similar lines but with more of a Slayer feel, particularly vocally as the aggression levels are turned up and the band go full tilt. If that pair of opening cuts weren’t a call to form a circle pit then “Dead Army“, front loaded with Speed Thrash earworm riffs galore is an absolute monster, the only thing odd being the vocals during the opening part which are off time with the riffs but with multiple listens they grow on you. If you’re loving the current Thrash resurgence and the new bands on the darker side of that like Hazzerd then this is one for you, all the classic elements but with that modernised edge thanks the recording equipment, engineering and production value of the present. If you didn’t know in advance, you couldn’t tell this was done anywhere except a proper studio, which is a testament to the bands professionalism in getting the best performance out of each other as well as the best sound. The hours as well as the blood, sweat and tears have clearly been poured into this and it shows in the final product. Nelson has a classic Old School Thrash Death style vocal and in “Bitter End” offers up some deeper growls to contrast against the usual dry, raspy style that is a really interesting change up. The first touches of melody appear in “Breeding Hate” with a drop out to a “Black” album era Metallica style duelling melancholic lead harmony with a choral backing that is absolutely stunning before breaking out into the kind of riffage that you might expect from Trivium, it’s that good and every ounce of experience that the older generation of musicians in this band have has been put into this. A whirlwind of percussive battery and staccato riffage, “Raise The Flag” is your classic tale of War with Helgrind hellbent on all out destruction, a call to arms and an instant classic on a record that defies the odds and raises a middle finger to anyone who had that this band were passed it because on this evidence, they’ve got a lot left in their locker [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Dead Shall Rise
  2. Massacre The Suffering
  3. Dead Army
  4. Bitter End
  5. Not My Enemy
  6. Breeding Hate
  7. Harvest
  8. Raise The Flag
  9. Helgrind

Insurrection” by Helgrind is out 22nd October 2021 via Metal Rocka Recordings, Cargo Records and One Eyed Toad Records

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