Review Summary: Middle earth gained a new superstar.
With a name like Helcaraxe I could implore you jam this by sheer radicalness of name alone. It contains within it the 3 most riffworthy names in the metal sphere-hell, car (?) and axe. However, some of our more professional lineup of reviewers would call that "lazy" and "basically a soundoff", so before you I present writing. Writing that requires words. Words that say things.
Helcaraxe is the best melodeath band ever.
Ok, so let me explain. The Red Dragon
is a largely mid-tempo melodic death metal album musing themes of middle earth, one that commits to its subject atmosphere incredibly well. It begins with a brief and highly welcome opener in "The Thief ", with some quaint acoustics that bring to mind a spritely hobbit village giving way to wicked shreds and absolutely massive snarls (I imagine this is where the hobbit village transforms into an army of hulking orcs, but that may be saved for the track "Orcrist"). It is admirable that a short 2 ½ minute stint can imbue such a sense of massive catharsis, but what's more impressive is how well this carries out until the albums end. "Into the Fire and the Sky" has this build that grinds through with slow upscaling riffs and thunderous drum patterns, that when they finally come to their inevitable culmination, give way to some of the most ridiculous and straight-goddamn-thrilling shreds to ever grace the ears.
With all that in mind it would not be inaccurate to say that this is a fully fledged riff fest, winding its way through wily acoustics, superb shreds and deep, monstrous low end grooves. However it would be inaccurate to say this record sails along it's riff-sea without a motley crew to guide it. The drumming here is incredible as well, plodding along in a rather straightforward yet admirable fashion, locking into stomping grooves that keep a mechanical yet diverse mid-tempo throughout (save for some of the rather speedy romping in "Circle of Firelight). There's rarely any flashy fills, but sometimes that isn't necessary. For as steadily as it trods along, the drumming here still has its share of important nuance (i.e, the duplets present in "The Arkenstone". (If I have used that word incorrectly please feel free to crucify me)).
Aside from the drumming we are also presented with some of the meanest snarls of both middle earth and our own earth realm of melodeath. There's less to be said here-I'd be lying if I said that the vocal work was diverse. I think, however, that the intricacies of the instrumentation that coincides more than make up for this loss, and besides, sometimes it just doesn't matter when the vocals are as gargantuan and bellowing as they are (this, I say, with the scalding breath of an orc just behind my neck. With every new view I save one second from my orcish decapitation so please sput friends have mercy).
With that I will have to come to a conclusion as I fear my time is limited. Helcaraxe rules.Red Dragon
rules. If you desire fantasy themed war chants and have an immense desire to bash dwarven skulls then plug in those earbuds and jam. Or rather have a bard sing this to you from a rustic book forged from the fires of earth's core, as I am sure is the proper way of listening. However which way, jam this. You will not regret it.