Wrapped In Mist

Season Of Mist
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Skogen mumlar
02. Burden
03. Water
04. If Death Comes Now
05. Farfäl
06. Alive Again
07. Vast and Wild
08. Som en Trumma
09. Mountain Song
10. Wrapped in Mist

Forged in the moonlit forests of Sweden, HELGA are a big, invigorating blast of fresh air. Although the music on "Wrapped in Mist" displays a kinship with everything from WARDRUNA and NYTT LAND to ELUVEITE and MYRKUR, there is something quietly unique about this record. A great number of disparate strands and strains of rock, metal and folk are being threaded together here, but the end result is seamless and enchanting.

"Skogen mumlar" hurls the listener into the great outdoors, almost demanding to be acknowledged as windswept and ethereal, and fulfilling an esoteric prog metal remit into the bargain. "Burden" is gorgeous: widescreen shoegaze with a stylish, gothic underbelly, it showcases singer Helga Gabriel's stunning voice, which shimmers and swoops like COCTEAU TWINS' Liz Fraser in her elegant pomp. "Water" is a fragile thing, shrouded in CLANNAD-levels of reverb, but darkly cinematic and blessed with a skewed pop melody.

"If Death Comes Now" is a pretty but morose rush of indie-psych with a sting in the tail, as HELGA slip into manic syncopation to the persistent thud of faux-ancient percussion.

Aside from Helga Gabriel's uniformly dazzling vocal performances, harrowing black metal screams on the venomous "Farfäl" included, "Wrapped in Mist" is notable primarily for the clever way that the Swedes sidestep any obvious genre associations. Songs like "Burden" and "If Death Comes Now" are beautifully wistful and melodically bittersweet, but HELGA never stay in the same sonic place for long and everything from unsmiling gothic rock to beatific and blissful psychedelia have been assimilated into a robust core of dreaminess and unfussy ingenuity. They exhibit a rare knack for building atmosphere on "Alive Again", which surfs from crescendo to crescendo, before unfolding as another delicate and disarming folk-pop song.

Quirky, tribal beats and tender strings underpin the KATE BUSH-like "Vast and Wild", with its soaring chorus and icy epilogue; the neofolk rumble of "Som en Trumma" drifts and soothes with benevolent, lysergic intent. "Mountain Song" starts desolate and sparse but grows in breadth and brashness as it passes through ghostly oases of calm and thunderous, pastoral mantras with Gabriel as a bewitched and beguiling guide. Finally, closer "Wrapped in Mist" proves to be this album's most overtly prog-influenced moment, with neo-classical pretentions, keening violin, vocal harmonies reminiscent of English folk mavericks THE UNTHANKS and an expansive, OPETH-tinged instrumental section. Like everything that precedes it, it feels intuitively conceived and executed with sublime, naturalistic grace.

If you need something to unfurrow that brow (with or without the aid of recreational substances),"Wrapped in Mist" will keep your bruised soul buoyant and gazing skyward.

Author: Dom Lawson
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