Dark Helm – Persepolis
I was reading about Dark Helm on their facebook page – ‘The sound of Dark Helm is the musicalisation of the journey of an ancient warrior through the sands of Persia and his quest to defend his throne, by bending time and cheating death.’, which in other words meant that they’d sing about Prince of Persia. To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled. However, though this is by no means an exceptional product, it’s a fairly professional debut attempt by the Pune sextet.
Sound-wise, the one band they remind me of are Canada’s Aeternam. Groove laden melodic death metal with symphonic overtones is one way to describe it. The female vocals in ‘Persepolis’ bring to mind The Agonist, one of the more bearable metalcore bands. And all through the album there are these constant recurrences of comparisons to other bands that they end up sounding exactly like, though in parts – Dimmu Borgir, Lamb of God, Textures, Born of Osiris, Xerath and Whitechapel to name a few. But in the end, they do succeed in creating a fairly homogenous kind of sound for the entire album that fits the progression of the storyline, which is an absolute necessity for a concept album.The band seems to have gone to fairly great lengths to getting an ‘Indian/Oriental’ (essentially eastern folk-ish) sound, using keyboard samples to exert the desired effect. And though this seems justified from the compositional point of view, the execution makes it sound too crude, as compared to getting authentic sound samples/instruments (For instance, Pitbull In The Nursery’s sitar in In My Veins).
From the production point of view, the dynamics of the sound seem too restrained. The drums almost sound programmed. The bands approach towards metal seems essentially textbook in a way, which is a little ironic considering that they label themselves as ‘experimental’. A mish-mash, however well made, of generic tidbits isn’t enough to be called an experiment, at least not a successful one. One can appreciate the variety of influences though, and how well they’ve been woven together as a unified sound. The guitar riffs are catchy and the playing is tight, and the keyboard provides some good aural backdrops. The growled vocals are fairly consistent, the clean male vocals not as much. To summarize – For those excited by the ‘experimental’ tag such as myself shouldn’t be too expectant – it’s a decent album, not an obscure gem. Worth a buy if you’re just looking for some plain headbanging and some refreshing melodic work and catchy palm muted riffs.
Final rating – 7/10.
Memorable songs – Borrowed Time, Jaffar, Cyrus, Origins I(which form some kind of a collective climax for the album).