Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: The Sign Records
Hällas is a five piece from Sweden, with a name that sounds like the way Greeks call their country in their own language, which is as funny as disturbing. However, this becomes a small detail as soon you dive into the music, which takes you to places where names and concepts don’t matter much.
After an eerie intro and a musical phrase which comes from the Danava book of going up and down the fret, “The Astral Sheer” gallops its way in a trademark Maiden fashion to a middle part with a guitar tone, melodies and a peak with a solo that brought to mind Genesis’ “The Musical Box”. “Repentance” follows the same pattern to come back to its normal pace with a Pink Floyd – “Time” tribute phrase. Too many references too soon? Well, Hällas is the perfect example of those bands that are stepping on the shoulders of giants, but although the influences are obvious and shine all the way through, the outcome sounds fresh and rewarding. Sure the whole project has an 70’s aura, their music first and foremost, also their style and their video clips, but the cover and the loose concept story has a retrofuturistic flavour, the title of the album explicitly states it actually. Templars riding through the astral plane and all that. In that help the omnipresent keyboards, either as Hammond, or as Hawkwind like space sounds, played by someone who must have photos of Tony Banks and Alan Parsons over his bed. The guitars are appearing with different tones, approaching the buzuki sound as much as they can, “The Golden City Of Semira” Is the closest it gets. The vocals have a noble aura and are like a raspy Morrissey going epic, which might sound weird, but it fits. Even though their riffs and choruses never cease to be catchy, “Star Rider” is a category of its own in terms of hooks, keyboard sounds and vocal melodies, a song for the whole family.
Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull, they all hang out in that record which gathers the finest of hard rock and early heavy metal sounds with simple and effective performance. It just flows through and through without losing the momentum, keeping the feel good attitude and delivering solid, consistent music. Among the best of 2017 without second thoughts.