So, this new HELLSAW album...wow! I was wondering when another band would come along to join ABIGOR and BELPHEGOR at the upper echelons of the Austrian extreme scene, and these guys have done just that with “Trist”. This is some supreme Black Metal right here, the kind that throws more than a passing glance to the past yet ultimately pushes forward with confidence and flair.
In terms of execution this is practically a flawless release. Like INQUISITION, these Austrians have mastered the trick of churning out a brand of Black Metal that is faithful to tradition yet sounds undeniably modern at the same time. One could also name-check ENSLAVED here, as they are another band that often side-steps convention completely yet still carries that magical Black essence with them. Tasteful diversity is key here, and so one gets a the potent blow with the opener “The Devil is Calling My Name,” which effectively marries “Transilvanian Hunger” era DARKTHRONE with some of SATYRICON’s latter day groovy exploits, a very ALCEST-y exercise in Atmospheric Post/Modern BM (“The Forerunner Of The Apocalypse”), and even some thrashing Black madness in the form of “A Winter Cold,” which sounds very much like “Damned In Black” era IMMORTAL. The strangely titled “Bedlam 1450” didn’t do much for me, as its meandering stomp (almost) derails the otherwise great flow of the album. The band cap the album in style though, with the melodic nature of “Silence” immediately brings to mind those richly textured closing strains of IRON MAIDEN’s “The Thin Line Between Love And Hate” (a seriously underrated track, if you ask me).
Not to get carried away, there are indeed a few tracks that are less than thrilling, but when all is said and done this is a quality release from a band that is oozing potential. The vocals are menacing, the sense for melody is impeccable, and the production is top-notch. “Trist” is simply a great album – invest without hesitation.
(Online July 23, 2012)