- Category: Reviews
Almost two years after its debut album “Shepherds of Cassini,” New Zealand’s experimentalists Shepherds of Cassini are back to the business with a brand new full-length album called “Helios Forsaken.” This new record proves one thing—this act definitely represents one of the most innovative bands on the current scene, and having said that I certainly hope that some big label will notice the band’s creative potential and sign them what will bring them opportunities for touring and breaking out of New Zealand. And that is something that I, as a fan of the band, would love to see happen.
“Helios Forsaken” is absolutely a crushing record, but in the same time it’s constructive and creative release full of energy and power. On this album, guys own the sound by making it obedient, what’s shown through the unification of all diverse parts.
The opening track “Raijin” gains the attention it seeks from stabs of post-/doom metal heavy riffing contrasted with avant-garde and psychedelic ambiance. Brendan Zwaan’s ‘a cappella’ singing on “Mirrors Have No Memory” is probably the most emotional piece on the album, and it serves as an introduction to “The Almagest,” a 15-minutes piece that is the album’s centerpiece. It doesn’t take much for the band to show the beauty of improvisation, as the lengthy song format possibly gives an insight into the band’s songwriting process. Playing this live leaves even more space for additional improvising, what I am sure would be an unforgettable experience. It’s only song number three, and the deal is sealed.
But there are three more to go. “Mauerfall” soothes far more often than it shreds. As an instrumental piece, Shepherds of Cassini do not blow their load early in an effort to maintain the listener’s interest, but rather choose to foreplay. The band teases the listener by pursuing unexpected sonic paths while never failing in their ability to deliver a killer hook when atmosphere and melody will no longer suffice. “Pleiades’ Plea” is another emotional moment brought by Zwaan’s perfect voice. Similarly to the previous tune, Shepherds of Cassini have a knowledge of when less is more. The spacious sound patterns are extended most of time with the presence of Felix Lun’s violin which gives the album a brand new side.
The title and closing track “Helios Forsaken” introduces growl vocals that contrast cleans in an Opethian way. A violin passage connects the dots once again along with guitar soloing, and rhythm section’s odd-metrics. Speaking of rhythm section, Omar Al-Hashimi’s drumming and Vitesh Lava’s performance on bass are nothing less impressive throughout the record. Oriental influences that are present on the record give “Helios Forsaken” its delicious flavour, and the closing segment on the title song perhaps hints that the follow-up will emphasise this side of the band even more.
“Helios Forsaken” is a powerful offering from the Aucklanders. The group has taken a distinctive combination of ingredients and squeezed out every bit of potential out of them. Whatever Shepherds of Cassini do next, in any case, I’m there.