Helleborus - Saprophytic Divinations review

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Band: Helleborus
Album: Saprophytic Divinations
Release date: December 2019

01. Celestial Grave
02. Alraun Ghost
03. Verum Fidei
04. Devils Garden
05. Juniper Shrine
06. Seasonal Legacy
07. Nocte Amans
08. Blakulla's Meadow
09. Saprophytic Divinations

If your second wave melodic black metal itch is in need of scratching, you could do a lot worse than listen to this.

Despite not boasting a tenured group of renowned musicians or the backing of a major record label, Helleborus delivers with all the quality and expertise of the genre's dominant forces, offering an action-packed experience full of emotionally charged riffs and mystically influenced extremity in the form of their sophomore full-length release, Saprophytic Divinations. Moments of cult-like hypnotism and outright displays of death metal-infused violence permeate the otherwise serene sense of welcoming -- a result of soaring melodies and a masterful mixing job that provides every ounce of bombastic energy necessitated by this type of release.

Touching on the archetypal elements introduced seemingly eons ago to the black metal scene, these Euro-inspired Americans aren't afraid to show off their inner Old Man's Child or, to relate in more modern (and geographically relevant) terms, their Uada, whose second album features the same drummer as the album currently being reviewed. It's an interesting approach by a band so relatively new to the game, as their undoubtedly accessible, polished, and professional sound would easily put them into the top tier of melodic black metal purveyors, and yet there is something lacking in regards to its fundamentals that could prevent listeners from buying what's on sale here. It's almost too clean or manufactured to dig beneath the surface of what is ultimately a one-night stand; although, admittedly, it's an enjoyable night.

Without ever crossing over into truly occult, atmospheric, dark, or depressive realms, Saprophytic Divinations still manages to straddle the lines of those encompassing properties and offers an absorbing first-time journey, though its replay value shrivels with repeat listens. The bounce and groove found within certain tracks tends to wither after picking apart their simplistic and formulaic structures, but there are enough engaging and varied riffs and melodies to keep you on board until its unfortunately anticlimactic end. The second-last track acts better as a closer due to its soundtrack-esque intensity, but that's a minor gripe.

While far from terrible or obnoxiously intrusive, it doesn't quite move the chains or offer up what hasn't been showcased now for over 20 years. That said, Helleborus is still a name that should come recommended to anyone looking for samey, yet high quality melodic black material from the modern scene who just want more of what they like instead of searching for groundbreaking and genre-bending soundscape inventors and unorthodox composition aficionados.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 9


Written on 16.02.2020 by Just another opinionated guy telling you what to listen to.

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