marți, 17 iulie 2018

Heller - Heller (1989) + history

Heller is an extreme metal band formed in Belgrade, Yugoslavia(now Serbia) back in 1984. Their guitarist Attila played in a band called Dimenzija Smrti(Dimension of Death) before Heller. The band consisted, at the time of the 1st concert, of:
Deda - vocals
Attila - guitar
Kole - guitar
Bičke - bass
Müller - drums

The material here will be reviewed chronologically rather than track-by-track. With history written by me from all the infos I gathered so far(I appologize for the mistakes, where/if they're present!).

(From left to right: Müller, Deda, Attila and Kole. Heller in 1986)

As stated on their Facebook page, their first show took place in May 1985, and the songs played were: "Grob bez dna(Bottomless grave)", "Inverzija(Inversion. (Sometimes called "Impossible(Metal is power)-ED)" and "Heller". The songs were written in English language and they cover topics such as metal way of life, satanism/anti-religion and death. Of course, the level of violence in the lyrics is higher compared to their counterparts back then.

"Grob bez dna" reminds me of early extreme metal bands like Bathory or Hellhammer, due to its punk-like riffing. "Inverzija" is rooted more in traditional metal/NWOBHM, but a real headbanging track, its lyrics are dedicated to metal way of life: "Metal will never die/It will remain here to curse the people".
"Heller" is instrumental track. But way faster than the rest of the tracks. If you ever get hold of their 1993 demo, there is a live version of this track from 1986. They played it even faster back then. the solo is a bit extended too, but it is missing the chainsaw-like ending part featured on LP. These tracks alone raise them next to Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Exodus and so on. If they had the chance to release an EP back then, believe me they would be hailed next to these bands as all the songs are still fresh to this day.

It seems that two newer tracks appeared on a D.I.Y. compilation called "Beograd Hardcore '86/'87 No. 1" together with the punk bands Crist and Thrashagain. Those tracks are "Dead or Alive(the only track that wasn't translated in their native tongue)" and "Black attack(entitled "Krvava osveta(Bloody revenge)")". Both are very fast tracks(on the LP as well), similar to the tempo of the track "Heller". You can hear them on the live bootlegs that they were playing them similar to the LP version... no slow-down! Attila mentioned in some interview that they never recorded any demos prior to the LP, so I am not sure whether these are live tracks or rehearsal ones.

The only not mentioned tracks, but written around the same period, are: "Demonska Devojka(Demonic Girl)" and "Armagedon".
"Demonska Devojka" went under titles such as "Innocent sacrifice for Sabbath", then "Demonic Girl", "Demonska vatra(Demonic fire)" and finally made it to the final version. This track is the most worked track on the album as you can hear a variety of riffs and many tempo changes - if the band should have an anthem track, this should be it. In addition, it has nice echoing effect on vocals that makes this album sound even more evil.
"Armagedon" is a short track, but written in similar manner to those mentioned above.

At the same time, around 1987 I suppose, Kole and Deda left. Kole formed Amnesia, and later Rapidforce. According to Metal-Archives, there were many people who joined and left the band, but by fall of 1987 the line-up was:
Žare - vocals
Attila - guitar
Dane - guitar
Čvora - bass
Müller - drums.
Žare's vocals were closer to the black/death metal. He had a very sinister tone, closer to what death metal vocalists nowadays have. I never heard anything similar in ex-Yugoslavia area similar to that(and neither anywhere in the world).
Still, with Čvora's arrival, all the songs(except "Dead or Alive") underwent a translation process.

I have to mention that the so-called live demo, featuring 4 tracks(all sang in English) feature Attila on vocals! It is dated 1988, but let's not forget the band sang already in their native tongue by then. That makes it 1987, or even 1986.
Žare was no longer in the band, and at some point Žmegi became the new voice of Heller. New tracks? "Varvarksa Horda(Barbaric Horde) - (Entitled "Molitva(Prayer)" on the live bootlegs that surfaced-ED).
"Varvarska Horda" has a slower tempo, but it is still a fast track. It is an interlude between their older tracks and the newer tracks, so to speak.

Their LP was recorded in 1989. 8 tracks were already written and played before, so here are the last written ones:
"Inferno", "Inkvizicija(=Inquisition)" and "Adam i Eva(Adam&Eve)". The tunes are very powerful(yet, the writing hand shows again), but the bands they were looking up to by then already chose a more technical/melodic style, based less on riffs and more on technical wankery, making it hard to hear the guitar riffs(compare "South of Heaven" to "Reign in Blood" or "Agent Orange" to "Persecution Mania" to get what I mean-ED). Heller however still relies on riffs, but they come out as background riffs, making a bit hard to hear them.
I heard that the re-released tape version also had an intro that was not included in the vinyl version or the CD 2003 re-release. I don't know whether the original tape has it, as I never heard it myself.

(From left to right: Dane, Čvora, Žmegi, Attila and Müller. Heller's line-up on the LP)

This was one of the first Yugoslav bands that ever played black metal, death metal, grindcore, speed metal and thrash metal. Basically, extreme metal history is summed up in this LP. Recommended!

Review written by Necrotrooper