It’s fitting that the cover of Hellvetron’s début album shows a giant many headed beast in a dark cave surrounded by hooded figures. Fitting because it’s death/doom metal that lumbers slowly like a huge beast, oppresses with a dark gloomy atmosphere and reeks with with the scent of occult ritual incense. The aesthetic of occult metal is usually cheesy and overdone, but Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties captures it perfectly with a murky ceremonial sound. Turn off the lamp, light the candles and incense, and absorb the darkness within – by the end you’ll be baying for animal sacrifice atop a pentagram drawn in blood.
On Sheol – Grave of Supernals industrial electronics give way to murky riffs, slowly twisting around with a filthy death/doom guitar tone, ritualistic drums pounding away with a cavernous echo. A deep dull cloud of bass rises out of the ground to fill the air like smoke, while Alal’Xhaasztur’s deep howls cut through the gloom, the beastly intonations high in the mix to fearsome effect. There are some higher pitched tremolo bends which help to create a thick wall of sound, but what really completes the atmosphere is the subtle undercurrent of synth, sounding like an ominous chant at the ritual. The overall closed-in sound of the track is classically cavernous, and though the pacing is slow, it’s so deliberate in the way it moves from one riff to the next that it constantly spawns tension. The cauldron doesn’t bubble over into frenetic bursts of speed or blazing solos, it just builds and maintains an oppressive occult offering.
There’s seven tracks on the album, and while the murky atmosphere with it’s focus on the slow and filthy is present throughout, there’s a lot to keep it interesting. The slow pounding drums create a brooding uneasiness on Abaddon – Wings of Perdition, while the military beat, savage tremolo riffing and low bestial snarls of Titahion – Foul Eaters of the Clay of Death make it sound like the full force of hell has been unleashed. The drums on Tzalemoth – Shadow of Death are so loud in the mix that every single beat is incredibly powerful – precision timing has a much more devastating effect against the higher throat tearing screams and oppressive synths than mindless blasts ever would. Closer Gehinnom – Hellwomb of the Impure Hag Queens is a track which has it’s rare faster moments among the tortured howls of a wounded beast. The electronics that close the album the way it opened are intensified by the addition of demonic snarls, and give a great way to close an incredibly dark and evocative 25 minutes of music.
While some of the abyssal death metal bands in the current scene just revel in the darkness and caustic sound they create without actually doing anything interesting musically, Hellvetron’s sound is incredibly well crafted, with great songs, and almost scary sound in the occult, ritualistic atmosphere. If you ever need to summon forth all the powers of hell in a black magic ritual then nothing other than this could be the soundtrack.