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Monday, September 26, 2022

Review: Hellgarden – Rise of the Beast

Label: Brutal Records

Date: December 10th, 2021

“Rise of the Beast” is not something I’ve come to expect from Chile. Symphonic and melodic black metal is definitely not what the scene out there is known for. Okay, there might be bands out there practicing a similar path, but they are unknown to me. Unlike Hellgarden which I’m getting acquainted with right now.

This horde is apparently over two decades old. It is actually quite surprising, since the information that internet provides states the debut recording came out in 2014. Almost a decade and a half of severe abstinence for Hellgarden, as it turns out. Weird, but not unheard of. Let’s just assume that they’ve used the time to sharpen the spear which should strike the ribcage of the savior. Or perhaps that was the case with the debut album, published three years ago. Let’s take a listen and find out.

First and foremost, it is undeniable that Hellgarden isn’t just looking into old Scandinavia for inspiration. Since blood runs thicker than water, black metal, as performed by this quintet, is dark, deep and brutal. Unmistakable South American aura is omnipresent. Almost a death / doom metal poltergeist that haunts the album, on top of the combination of Swedish and Norwegian black metal. Come to think of it, there’s even a small but significant Cradle Of Filth charm about the record. Mostly in the theatric approach to composition, on several occasions.

Still, most of the instrumentations on “Rise of the Beast” stem from Scandinavia. Melodic pieces are textbook examples of how Dissection made a name for themselves. On the other hand, the fierce black metal passages, wrapped in keyboards, summon the thoughts of old Emperor.

It needs to be said that Hellgarden did a fine job mashing all of these influences together. All the instruments involved in making this album are skillfully used to convey what the Chileans had in mind. It’s all there, every element that makes us follow the genre(s) with intense passion. Even down to a good production work (which could be better, but it is good enough). And highlighted by a convincing cover artwork.

However, something is still lacking. And it is the overall catchiness of the release. While it is all fine and dandy during the listening session, once it is done, little can be remembered off “Rise of the Beast”. There’s a lingering sense of the atmosphere I’ve just witnessed and the dark, uncertain road I’ve been led through. But a certain passage that hooks me up to Hellgarden is nowhere to be found. Creatively speaking, the album is on the correct path, steadily stepping on it, but there’s still a long way to go until there’s an orgasmic finale, drenched in victorious evil.

Until then, Hellgarden stands as a proof that Chilean scene is much more than one of the pillars of that filthy South American extreme metal. Even if “Rise of the Beast” bears resemblance to that recognizable feeling. Connoisseurs should be delighted, as we’re talking about a good record. For a wider recognition, Hellgarden needs to offer much more.

P. S. The label that released this album, Brutal Records, is the host to yet another Hellgarden. This fact left me dumbfounded for a moment while looking for more info on the Chileans. The other Hellgarden comes from Brazil, so try not to confuse the two while ordering “Rise of the Beast”.