Review 1484 : Eternal Helcaraxe – Drown in Ash – English

Eternal Helcaraxe is back with its new album.

Created in Ireland in 2003, the trio composed of Praetorian (vocals/guitar/keyboards, Éadóchas), Oceans (bass/vocals) and Tyrith (drums) collaborates again with Naturmacht Productions for the release of Drown In Ash, their third album.

Composed of seven tracks, the whole album is built on an Atmospheric-proper contrasted Black Metal to which we add Pagan roots, which means a cold mixture between raw sounds and majestic tonalities, topped by visceral and wild vocal parts that keep this solid link. 

We discover it soon on Withered Strands Of Existence, the first track, which uses a soft melody on the introduction before throwing us in impure darkness accompanied by sharp and dissonant riffs, which will finally give birth to Drown in Ash, the eponymous track, and to its airy and mystical orchestrations. Melodies are adorned with Folk influences to offer catchy patterns before leaving control to Old School sounds, then to this melancholic break which turns into mystical waves that eventually fade away before Where Dead Things Roam Free returns to speed and icy sonorities. The sound is also more aggressive on this composition which will also leave a place to clean vocals, but the track is short and None Of It Mattered quickly takes over with a soothing and light interlude before letting saturation flood us again on Ice Cold Winds and its frantic rhythmic. A sweet melody will break rage, igniting again with airy and dissonant tones, then with some mysterious choirs which feed the haunting sound to drive us to Cease and its disturbing tones, to which the band adds massive and powerful vocals. The track will also offer sharp and scathing Old School roots fed by uncompromising blast, but mysterious harmonics are never far away, and we’ll find them again on In Darkwoods And Dreams, the last track, which naturally melts raw rage and more melodic parts to trap our mind while making us dive into darkness and contemplate this desolate landscape with mystic Folk roots.

Between raw tones and bewitching melodies, Eternal Helcaraxe unveils a visceral and majestic universe that lets Drown in Ash hypnotize us and make us sink into darkness with very catchy Pagan hints. The album can be listened to as a single piece.


Version Française ?

Few questions to Praetorian, Eternal Helcaraxe’s guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist.

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Eternal Helcaraxe without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Praetorian (guitar/vocals/keyboards): I’m Praetorian, I play guitars, keys and vocals. With this album we try to create a landscape using raw emotion, some Post-Rock style breakdowns, to really try to bring out a feeling of emptiness and bring the energy down before bringing it back up again to a harsh level. 

What is the link between the band’s name and the music you play?
Praetorian: We were all big fans of Tolkien‘s work when we started the band, « Helcaraxe » is a place in Middle Earth which is mentioned in his The Silmarillion book. It means « The Grinding Ice » in ancient Elvish, we felt it worked for us at the time of picking it. The lyrics on this album have moved away from the more « battle » style lyrics though.

Drown in Ash, your third studio full-length, is about to come out. How do you feel about it? What does its name mean?
Praetorian: We are very proud of this one, we approached the writing very differently this time than before, and really took our time making each part of the album as strong as possible without losing the flow, and even the song placement, to really bring out the best of all parts. The album was pretty much wrote as one whole song.

There is a huge complementarity between raw riffs with Old School influences and majestic elements, how do you manage to leave a room for each element?
Praetorian: I think it’s just using all the tools that’s available to us to make the links between these parts as smooth as possible so it feels natural, like drum build ups and vocal lines uses at the right parts, the same with the bass and guitar, to make the songs feel like they build in the right places set up the next part but still make them hit as hard as the part before.

What inspires you to create your music? Same question for the lyrics.
Praetorian: With the lyrics I was originally writing them as poems, they weren’t meant to be used for this release at all. But when I was writing lyrics for this release, I wasn’t getting anything out of the lyrics I normally write. But when I looked at the music that we were writing at the time, the poems that I wrote seemed to just work so well with the music, that I decided to use them. And then the music got darker too.

I heard a few clean backing vocals in some songs, how did you have the idea to integrate them to those waves of howlings?
Praetorian: Originally they were keyboard parts actually. I felt if we chanced them to clean vocal parts it might make the parts more intense, or emotional. I feel it works for the most part.

My personal favorite track on this record is Drown in Ash, the eponymous one. What does this song mean to you?
Praetorian: The title of this track and the release was a reflection of how I felt when I was in my darkest place, how alone I felt. I would look back over photos I took throughout my life, or think of memories and how friendships and relationships had failed, due to both sides. How I felt I needed help and it wasn’t there. So the idea of Drown In Ash was the mental image of someone reading over the book of their life and how it was an illusion, it going up in flames in front of them, and choking on the ashes.

Do you have plans for the band’s future? Whether it is about live shows, new material, or even anything else.
Praetorian: Yes we are talking to a few promoters over Europe at the moment for shows, so hopefully a few next year. And we have started writing new music too, I don’t wanna talk about that too much though, not till we’re happy with what we are doing.

Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Praetorian: None really are jumping out at me at the moment, my music/lyrics are pretty personal. But then again it’s all about the song, so if it needs something that one of the guys in the band can’t do especially well, I’ll get someone else to do it.

Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Eternal Helcaraxe as opener and three other bands!
Praetorian: I think a lot of bands that are jumping out at me at the moment are bands that are on the same label as us, like Grima, and Havukruunu, so those two and maybe Shining headlining.

That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Praetorian: Just wanna say a big thanks to Johno Leader at Leader Sound Production, and all the support from everywhere, promoters and listeners from around the world, the feedback from this release has been amazing!

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