Hellehond - Verslonden [Bonehead Productions - 2019]At the tail end of 2019, German label Iron Bonehead Productions released the debut album from Dutch Black Metal band Hellehond- entitled Verslonden it severs up crude ‘n’ primitive, if not very original BM.
Hellehond is a fairly young band, formed in 2017 and consisting of four members. Some of the band members previously played in bands like Rectal Smegma, Asphyx, and Wederganger. Besides this debut release, the band only has only one rehearsal demo De Dood Nabij , two of the demos appear on this debut album. Verslonden is released as a 12 "LP, Jewelcase CD and digital download. Sergey Pakhomov
The album cover art is a black and white painted picture. Most likely the original picture was in color, but for the cover, it was decided to go monochrome. The artwork is somewhat infantile. It depicts an old cemetery with tombstones and crosses, surrounded by forests. In the foreground, in the grass are several skulls and bones. Next to them, in the low fog, a three-headed Cerberus sneaks. At the top of the cover is the bands' logo, made in black colors with a subtle gray outline. The logo is a stylized Gothic font, combined with tridents, chains and the image of the three heads of Cerberus. The album's title is written in the lower right corner of the cover. It is also done in black with a gray outline in a stylized Gothic font. In my opinion, the cover is made in the style of the later Darkthrone albums, which puts the listener in a certain mood when listening to the album. In principle, the cover fits what we have here sonically well enough.
The total duration of the album is twenty-nine and a half minutes- it features seven tracks all approximately the same length. On the album, Hellehond presents us with primitive Black Metal with a clear nod towards classics of the genre. Despite the rather crude sound through-out, the overall feel of the album is rather dense and easy to perceive. Each instrument can be heard very clearly. I especially liked the sound of the bass guitar, which with its often raw sound usually becomes indistinguishable- however, here it's very clear. The drum parts are also recorded very well, despite the somewhat blurry sound on the bass drum parts. The main rawness of the album is given to the guitar parts- these are very simple and primitive, almost devoid of melodic lines. Of course, we can hear the classic Black Metal tremolo, but basically, the album contains simple riffs, sometimes reminiscent of the early Thrash / Heavy metal albums, as well as several obvious Punk Rock moments. The rhythm of the album is quite diverse. There are both high-speed, mid-tempo & swinging parts. I would like to note the very good work of the vocalist. His vocal timbre reminded me of the work of Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone. In general, when listening to the album, it seemed to me that Hellehond took Darkthrone as inspiration. I'd say that this is a very worthy role model. Despite obvious associations with Darkthrone, the album has a lot of elements taken from other bands, and at times these create a feeling of plagiarism. During listening, I could hear clear pilfering from the likes of Mayhem, Burzum and Khold. As well as several bands that have nothing to do with Black Metal. I was especially surprised by the final song of the album, "Kerkerlust". At first, I thought it was a cover version of some Motorhead song. Then, when the tone switched, I thought, “Oh, it's Mercyful Fate's "Curse Of The Pharaohs" riff”. The whole album is filled with similar moments. In this regard, I wondered if Verslonden was meant to be a relaxed summing of their influences.
In the albums press release, it’s mentioned that the band were inspired by the works of Hellhammer, early Celtic Frost, and Bathory. I didn’t hear these influences. Or, if they where, they were such minimal quantities that it went unnoticed….. but as mentioned there are certainly plenty of other influences at play here. Verslonden is most certainly not a masterpiece of the genre and features a large number of Black Metal cliches. However, I also can’t call this album bad, as it flows by well enough & if you enjoy the bands I’ve mentioned you could well get something from this-just don’t expect anything close to original on Verslonden.