HELIUM HORSE FLY — Helium Horse Fly (review)

HELIUM HORSE FLY — Helium Horse Fly album cover Album · 2013 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
I’m the first to admit that i’m attracted to creepy and weird album covers and check out bands that i’ve never encountered solely on album cover art alone from time to time. Such was the case with the Liège, Belgium based HELIUM HORSE FLY, which is a name that also demands attention. While this little known band was founded in 2009 and is technically still active, they have only released two EPs, “A Dispute to Redefine Clearly Frontiers Between Devils and Angels” (2010), “Fishing For Ghosts” (2011) and their only full-length album to date, the 2013 eponymously titled released which is the album that caught my eye. Damn, if i happened to look up and see a suited figure with a hand for a head, i’d friggin freak out and crap myself!

HELIUM HORSE FLY is one of those bands that straddles a few genres and can loosely be tucked in them all but really doesn’t fit neatly into any. While the nomenclature demands these tags which generate avant-garde metal, post-metal, art rock, math rock and experimental rock / metal, this quartet is a unique mix of all of the above. The band consists of the founders Stéphane Dupont (guitar/keyboards/vocals), Dimitri Iannello (bass/clarinet) and Marie Billy as lead vocalist. Bastien Dupont (drums) would only join after the first two EPs in time for the recording of this self-titled debut full-length.

The band present a moody mix of restrained melancholic rock that engages in energetic metal outbursts but flows along in a nonchalant post-metal pace while engaging in occasional jittery math rock time signature freakouts. The main stabilizing effect is Marie Billy’s powerful vocal belting with a slightly contrapuntal phrasing over the rhythmic instrumental section. Her lyrics teeter on the bridge between singing and poetic recital not unlike Catherine Ribeiro’s unique style however this is in English and she has more of a vocal range.

Overall HELIUM HORSE FLY’s only full album comes off mostly as a hardcore post-rock album that incorporates some metal into the mix for bombastic contrast. Avant-garde but not overly so with enough progressive elements to add some zest to an otherwise slowly oozing collection of eight tracks with the two longest “Adrift” and “Breaches” extending past the ten minute mark. The music is quite hypnotic but not psychedelic in a trippy way. It’s more mesmerizing in a cold, detached post-rock manner in the vein of the greats like Godspeed You! Black Emperor that allow a building up of tension to a crescendo of some sort although there are too many other elements to really be called post-rock but it certainly has that vibe. It has a real downer vibe sort of like Maudlin of the Well or other Toby Driver projects.

While much of the album is drenched in a jangle guitar melancholy some tracks such as “Lamento Of A Dinosaur” have a much heavier guitar presence and utilizes the quirky time signature that the riffs carry out through the entire album only more pronounced. The overall interaction of the band members is quite unique. Billy’s vocals remind me of a vocal jazz lounge sort of musical act while the math rock sensibilities and post-rock timbres take me somewhere else completely. The band find an interesting way to bridge all of these elements into a mature band sound that is actually quite addictive. Add to that the production is spot on with beautiful guitar echoes and a perfect mixing of the different sounds involved. This band sounds nothing like i was expecting but i have to say that i’m pleasantly surprised.
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