Saturday 3 June 2023

Heldscalla - Two Cathedrals (Album Review)

Release Date: June 02nd 2023. Record Label: Self Released. Formats: DD

Two Cathedrals: Tracklisting

1.Swamp Throat 08:57

2.Amhran Scath 06:08

3.A Chapter For Humming Blood 06:24

4.Otis 03:37

5.Witcheim Minor 09:43

6.Deiu Lache 07:23

7.Nightmare Riders 06:18


Jensen White: Bass Guitar

Gregory Marlor: Guitars

James White: Drums

Brian O'Toole: Vocals, Guitars, Keys


Psych Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metallers Heldscalla made a mighty impression with their debut album Fog Creatures Of Antiquity. The band have returned with their even  better new album Two Cathedrals which sees Heldscalla opt for a heavier and progressive sound compared to their debut. The album is a more multi-layered experience with Heldscalla drawing influence from bands such as Neurosis, Mastodon and Baroness but with more leanings into Psychedelic Rock/Metal.

Opening song Swamp Throat has a Post-Doom feel before launching into a heavier and furious style of Sludge/Stoner Metal. The vocals from Brian are self assured and highly confident with his aggressive style working superbly well with the Progressive Sludgy attitude the band play on this track. The later stages are more Ambient and Post-Rock driven which allows the album to have a Dramatic and slightly Theatrical approach. When Heldscalla plays a faster style of music, the grooves become more melodic and groove orientated which shows the listener what lies ahead for the rest of the album.

Second song Amhran Scath opens with a slightly distorted Doomed Out sound before Heldscalla explodes into an avalanche of furious growls, grooves and harsh lyrics that allows this track to be one of the standout moments of the album. Atmospheric Guitars offer an aggressive Psychedelic tone which moves further into RELAPSE RECORDS territory in places. Brian’s vocals are OFF THE CHART with the bombastic style of Death Growls, Grunts and Clean Vocals. Heldscalla are playing music that feels inspired by GOJIRA and MASTODON with the beautiful and chaotic melodies having an ICE COLD appearance to them. 

Third song A Chapter For Humming Blood continues with the Post-Metal attitude of the album with Heldscalla diving right into the action playing harsh sounds with more focus on the Doom element of their music. The song wisely drifts from Post-Whatever grooves to a more PRIMAL style of Sludge/Stoner Metal. The Psychedelic moments add a touch of creative class to the song with trippy sound effects that leaves a lasting impression with the quieter and sombre moments of the album.

Fourth Song Otis is a more riff-driven number with Heldscalla playing the shortest song on the album. Less progressive than the other tracks on the record. The instrumental work is faster and more direct. This is a straight up Sludge/Stoner Metal banger with the band playing some of the most interesting and heaviest grooves on the album. 

The final three tracks on the album Witcheim Minor, Deiu Lache and Nightmare Riders sees Heldscalla return to the Progressive world and offer some of the bleakest lyrics contained on the album. The music moves from Ambient, Atmospheric and Post-Metal based sounds which allows the band to experiment with their sound even further. More SONIC based but the music speaks for itself with a wide array of intense grooves to impress listeners with. Brian’s vocals feel inspired by Bruce Dickinson especially on Witcheim Minor and Nightmare Riders. 

Two Cathedrals benefits from first rate production values with Monolord’s Esben Willems on Mastering Duties from his famed Studio Berserk. Cameron Heck works his magic on Mixing  duties. Cameron is also on Engineering duties with help from Jack McKool. So expect a top-notch listening experience from start to finish.

Heldscalla have released an unexpected delight with Two Cathedrals. The album is complex, bold and daring that offers a more over the top style for a modern day Psych Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal album such as this. 

Words by Steve Howe


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