For my second Underground Review I was approached by Prog Death band Helix Nebula of Riva Vaciamadrid, Spain about checking out there first full-length album, The Last Lights Of A Dying Universe. They released a digital five track EP, The Beginning Of Time, back in 2013 and they recently played a show with Feel No Pain, whose four track demo I reviewed not too long ago.
I seriously think I’m going to edit my original post on looking for underground bands to mention that I really don’t want to be bothered if a band has an intro track. Bands, it’s old, it’s been done a million times and all you’re doing is wasting valuable time that I can never get back. Oh, and if your engineer or producer did it fire his dumb ass right away. Time is money. Just stop it!!!
Now to the music! Upon hearing “God Is God?” I instantly think modern day Dream Theater, with the delay drenched alternate picking line. And by the way no I’m not a fan of Dream Theater. The band kicks in…Death Metal growling? Ok, no problem, I am a Death Meal fan anyway. Now it’s starting to sound like a cross between the band I mentioned and Opeth. This song seems to go back a forth between the luscious clean parts that would make the knuckleheads in DT real proud, and Opeth during the heaviest moments on their landmark album, Blackwater Park. Mike Vera is really good at doing a low rumble into a demonic scream. I really don’t like how the song ends though, a little to anticlimactic, too soft, even with the quieter ending.
As the album progresses that sound remains very consistent, something lots of Progressive-bands have a major problem doing. I think the only issue I’m starting to have now is that there are times where I feel that the growling isn’t necessary. Sure, I did say I like it, but it just doesn’t fit everywhere, especially with the catchiness of some of the chorus’s I’m hearing. I’m really liking some of the guitar solos, especially on “Night Angel”, where I think different vocal approaches could’ve definitely been used. I definitely can envision screaming in the choruses to offset the growls during the versus, otherwise it just sounds stale. One of the things I used to love about a band like Into Eternity is not only could Stu Block growl, he could scream even higher than fucking Halford AND sing beautifully.
Paula Shultz’s guest vocals on “Dawn Of War” are absolutely breathtaking. After that this becomes the fastest song on the album so far. I’d honestly like for the band to do more of this in the future. Nice guitar harmonies, reminds me of “Flash Of The Blade”, one of my favorite Iron Maiden tracks. Although, like “God Is God?” it could’ve had a more badass ending. I feel like it needed to have it.
An interlude? Really guys? Is this necessary?? No it’s not! Another time killer that’s old and annoying. I really think the last time I found interludes at least amusing was back in the mid-90’s, when I heard the intermission track on Tool’s classic AEnima (they’re totally dead to me after this album) and the intermission on The Offspring’s album Ixnay On The Hombre (yeah it’s punk but it’s album before they sold out COMPLETELY…and I was only thirteen at the time). Point is, you bands need to knock it off with these fucking interludes – stop it!!!!
After a another minute was wasted “Son Of Antares” comes in with a great solid headbang tempo. Around the three minute mark it cools off temporarily before the guitar solo. I really think this was not necessary. And this is usually my biggest problem with prog metal. You all want to mix in all of these elements together in a single song and the problem is it doesn’t always make sense.
“Black Flames Of Chaos” had me throw up the horns right away. Good job guys! This is the most metal track on the entire album from start to finish. But more important than that, it’s the most consistent from start to finish.
Uh oh, I think that clean guitar is a tad out of tune on the closing title track; not the best way to start out the beginning of the end. On top of that, the segue into the heavier section feels very sloppy. As someone who started out as drummer it was really hard to keep track of the beat there. Thankfully, it shapes up more after that. You’ll definitely be able to hear some really consistent thematic changes throughout this ten minute epic, all of which intertwine perfectly. I would’ve loved the solos near the end to have a bit more attitude to them, not necessarily more notes, just more feel to them. And once again the ending leaves way too much to be desired.
All in all this is a decent debut album from Helix Nebula. I mentioned this in my review of Feel No Pain’s demo, but whether you’re making a debut album or demo, you really want to find a way to make it stand out and grab the listener by the fucking throat right at the start of track one – not track two after a pointless intro – track ONE. They are all fantastic musicians but I totally recommend they focus much more on at least streamlining their songs.
Favorite Tracks: Night Angel, Dawn Of War, Black Flames Of Chaos
You can check out Helix Nebula on their bandcamp site by clicking here:
One thought on “Helix Nebula – The Last Lights Of A Dying Universe”
Thank you for your review Mike. You give us some things to think about and try to improve. Hope you liked, by the way.
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