HELIUM HORSE FLY — Hollowed (review)

HELIUM HORSE FLY — Hollowed album cover Album · 2019 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
While it seemed as if they had fallen off the face of the Earth, the Belgian based HELIUM HORSE FLY from Liege returns after a six year gap following their 2013 eponymous debut and returns with an even noisier, darkened atmospheric hardcore and experimental slice of avant-garde post-metal with another disturbingly weird album cover and sound to match. This second full-length album HOLLOWED finds three members: Marie Billy (vocals), Stephane Dupont (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Dimitri Iannello (bass) returning for a reprise however original drummer Bastien Dupont has been replaced with new percussionist Gil Chevigne.

HELIUM HORSE FLY emerged at the beginning of the decade with an extremely dark and disturbing sound that takes a spacey angular approach on post-metal with intense emotionally scarring atmospheric dark clouds blocking out the sun for a very surreal journey into some sort of tortured soul’s bleakest emotional outlook and with the black and white album art makes me think of the movie “The Elephant Man” for some reason. HOLLOWED picks up exactly where the band left off but takes all the elements into ever more extreme territories.

Musically speaking, the avant-garde elements remind me most of early Kayo Dot especially the twisted cacophonous dissonance of “Dowsing Anenome With Copper Tongue” as ominous guitar chords create a wall of frightening sound that finds Marie Billy’s half-sung lyrics in a state of anxiety in weirdly off-kilter counterpoints from the instrumental backdrop that finds the guitar, bass and drums all existing in their own little worlds while conspiring to create a very ruggedly dangerous greater sum of the parts. The title HOLLOWED is perfect as the music sounds like a rock band where all members have experienced lobotomies and only shades of black, white and gray remain after all the colors of the rainbow have been extinguished.

Rhythmically the band progresses like a fairly normal rock band with soft sensual clean guitar driven intros with darkened atmospheric backdrops but proceed to heavier alternative metal climaxes, however the dissonant noise angst that comes from the provoking alternative tunings and oddly juxtaposed angularities adds intense layers of industrial bleakness creating a post-punk sounding style of math rock sputtering around in an atmospheric post-rock sort of trajectory. This is indeed downer music but the kind that envisions a sense of profound beauty lurking under the surface below. The hard-hitting harshness is smoothed out by mystery and melancholy with ambient swirls and echoey guitars or jazzified drum outbursts in the company of raging guitar and bass noise. The production is excellent.

HOLLOWED contains two behemoth tracks “In A Deathless Spell” and “Monochrome” that exceed the eleven minute mark with the remainder rating form near three to over eight. The musical style is surely a grower but has a weird perverted seduction as the slightly off tune melodies exude a logical melodic progression without actually explicitly existing as if the music is a mere shadow of an unheard underpinning. While the textures and timbres remind me a lot of early Kayo Dot, the music itself has a more pseudo-melodic post-rock progression with Marie Billy’s vocals adding a frigid fresh blanket of frost to the already wintry abstractness. It’s hard to explain what makes this band so addictive but it’s like a bitter chai without sugar. It stimulates and slightly disgusts at the same time. Dark and dreary. Perfect for a rainy day!
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