After about five seconds of listening to HELLVETO (not to mention viewing the band’s album art, promo photos, and song titles), it is clear what kind of Pagan/Folk Metal mission this one-man Polish project is on. This does not mean, however, that HELLVETO is subject to monotony or triteness, despite the fact that they can fit neatly into a well-populated genre. The title track displays some slow, determined riffing almost reminiscent of Doom Metal. This gives way to acoustic passages and the band’s trademark combining of harsh and mellow sounds. On “Krucjata,” the juxtaposition of harsh vocals and keyboard atmospherics, sometimes subtle enough to be considered ambient, might be jarring, but it’s a good kind of jarring. It makes the music immediately distinctive and the band is smart enough to vary the amount of ambience in the music, increasing and decreasing its prominence throughout. The effect is a unique and well-grounded composition. This trend of creative songwriting continues on the catchy guitar twang in “Krzuk Stali” and the infectious drum and keyboard intro followed by the integration of an accordion on “Perunia.”
There is something almost primitive about the music on “966”, as if it comes straight from a primeval Polish forest. One can easily imagine hearing these sounds while communing among the trees with other like-minded pagans, perhaps while preparing for battle. This adds a certain air of legitimacy to the band’s pagan themes but make no mistake, this is a genre exercise. Fans of Pagan Metal will certainly find a lot to enjoy here, but for those who do not consider themselves heathens, then they are advised to look elsewhere. Simply put, this is an enjoyable release that will put a smile on the face of anyone who loves donning medieval costumes.
(Online August 29, 2007)