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Hellvete ‎– Een Duvelse Zak Is Nooit Gevuld (2007)

Hellvete is the solo project of a member of Silvester Anfang, the flagship of the Belgian Funeral Folk collective. While Anfang has been slowly rising through the ranks with their Sunburned meets Satan clatter, Hellvete swerves drastically from the necrotic path, swapping the sinister arboreal creaking of Anfang for a style rooted in psych guitarist nirvana—references for the tape include Steven R. Smith and James Blackshaw, with not a bit of Alesteir Crowley to be found. Although Hellvete’s compositions don’t possess the crushing gravity of Smith’s or the formal elegance of Blackshaw’s, the A side compensates by nailing that elusive loner mystique. His work is never cluttered or rushed, rather the notes melt slowly in a field of hiss, as if each were a memory fading or an opportunity lost. The plaintive guitar reverberates mostly alone, accompanied by contemplative raga drone that further emphasizes the solemnity and insularity of the recordings. The organ is the instrument of focus on the B-side, but the wayward spirit of the tracks remains intact. After a wailing woodwind intro, “Diene Kee in Den Bunker Onder de Vaart” lofts into the stratosphere, stacking harmonics ala Lichens or Valet. Vocals also make their first appearance to stunning effect; Hellvete chant-sings with a deep hopefulness, but the tone still bears traces of resignation and leaves the impression of one turning away from the world for the richer terrain of the interior. The entering guitar line lilts with Appalachia twang, as the organ pushes the track to a verdant plateau. The remainder of the side outlines the stunning vibrancy of the interior, while its darker tones suggest the ominous clouds that threaten these fragile constructions. It’s become almost old hat to praise Slow Tapes, as seemingly every release reveals a new nuance on the noise/drone/psych continuum, but this tape stands out, even from the Belgian label’s stellar roster. Track it down and pay whatever price is demanded. You will receive a reprieve from temporal things. (Bryan Berge, Tape Hiss

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