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HÄLLAS

Crossover Prog • Sweden


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Hällas biography
Hailing from Jönköping, Sweden, a rock combo HÄLLAS were founded in 2011 by Tommy ALEXANDERSSON (bass, voices), Alexander MORAITIS (guitars), Kasper ERIKSSON (drums), Marcus PETTERSSON (guitars), and Nicklas MALMQVIST (keyboards), each of whom has been inevitably inspired by Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Symphonic Rock, and so on. In 2015 they released the eponymous ep via an independent label The Sign Records, that got appreciated. For two or more years, HÄLLAS had recorded material, that was crystallized as their debut full-length album titled "Excerpts From A Future Past" in 2017 finally.

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HÄLLAS discography


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HÄLLAS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 9 ratings
Excerpts from a Future Past
2017
3.90 | 20 ratings
Conundrum
2020

HÄLLAS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HÄLLAS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HÄLLAS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HÄLLAS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 7 ratings
Hällas
2015

HÄLLAS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Conundrum by HÄLLAS album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 20 ratings

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Conundrum
Hällas Crossover Prog

Review by Pestilence

5 stars Recently I have been making a list of my favourite albums released during 2020 when I reminded myself that Hällas made one. It has been a long time since I listened to one of their works fully. That is because I have never thought it is really worth a look. Even though I was sure that Conundrum was their best album so far I had to give it another listen since my last one being shortly after its release date. Few weeks ago I thought that this one is a pretty decent record but nothing more. And so I was dead wrong. I don't know if my significant shift in opinion about Conundrum was caused by possible music taste metamorphosis or I just had a bad day back then on my very first listen. At the moment i consider this album as one of the best made that year and here will explain why.

For those who don't know, Hällas is a swedish group whose genre is categorized as retro or vintage styled hard rock. All of their works tell the tale of an epic space fantasy world and so does their music greatly reflect the main motive. They are often compared to artists such as Deep Purple or Uriah Heep as those bands were probably their main influences. But what actually makes me genuinely enjoy their sound is the fact of how the group cleverly merges classic heavy metal into their music. You can clearly hear the Rainbow and Iron Maiden on this album whose impact on the atmosphere is truly incredible.

Conundrum is surely their best work. Band's sound evolved to the point it seems much more cleaner and mature compared to Excerpts from a Future Past and Hällas. I quickly realised that album can be divided into two stages which make a great performance while listening to it on vinyl. The whole adventure starts with short ambiental intro Ascension that takes our mind into Hällas' own fantasy world. Four of the following tracks are songs that put importance on rhythmicity and flowing clear melodies that makes them certainly catchy while not losing their progressive and symphonic traits. Tear of a Traitor and Carry On are the hit single type of a song made for promoting the album which both of them I frankly enjoy for their simplicity and power coming with it. After the fifth song Hällas decided to go full prog. We got there three epic and mesmerizing tracks that summarise and complete the trilogy presented by this lovely band.

The grand finale starts with the song Labyrinth of Distant Echoes which would be probably my favorite one from the whole composition, but since I find the album very even this wouldn't be an easy task to do. The track emerges with slow and subtle vocals rising swiftly into dynamic volley of hard rock guitar riffs and lilting vocals. The song continues to serve a great instrumental section just to fade into ambiental part and emerge once more with a vibrant melody. The whole song is pierced with intriguing instrumental arrangements which appear also in the next song Blinded by the Emerald Mist. Surely seventh track's structure resembles the previous one. Nevertheless it still manages to surprise the listener after thirty minutes into the album with its fabulous instrumental complexity. Then the adventure comes to an end with the Fading Hero which is actually a great track to be put on the last spot. It is everything you would expect from the final song. It contains a lot of epicness, guitar solos and wonderful vocal parts tied up into symphonic performance.

In my humble opinion Conundrum is one the best records made in 2020. Not many released during that year have caught my attention so much. I just really enjoy it. I can recommend this not only for hard rock, heavy metal, sci-fi or fantasy enthusiasts since I am sure that even a prog snob or casual rock listener might experience a marvellous journey while giving this one a try.

 Excerpts from a Future Past by HÄLLAS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.17 | 9 ratings

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Excerpts from a Future Past
Hällas Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars For their first full length (well at least traditional LP length) release and 2nd installment of a trilogy, Swedish retro rockers HÄLLAS largely dispensed with the proto metal influences in favour of a lighter but still riff propelled space rock sound. "Excerpts from a Future Past" is also much more cinematic and expansive than the self titled EP, like the songs are an accompaniment to a visual narrative, and luckily the lyrics, vocals and arrangements fully support these connections.

The influences of DEEP PURPLE and URIAH HEEP are felt in the heavy blues oriented aspects and in the extensive use of organ, but HÄLLAS tends to the more melodic aspects, grafting some WISHBONE ASH balladry, which is most evident on the potent "The Golden City of Semyra". Tommy Alexandersson's vocals. while wholly emotive, largely avoid the melodrama that sometimes plagued the original bands, though nobody thought of it that way at the time. Still, it is commendable that, in spite of the retro tag, HÄLLAS has updated aspects of their sound to reflect not just modern technology but also customs.

Compared to the debut, these tracks are also more intricate, with most of the complexity lying in how the various movements are bridged together again, to overuse the imagery analogy, like scenes in a film. The opener, "Astra Seer", "Repentance" and finale "Illusion Sky" are especially adept at this interweaving. My main complaint is that, apart from the overwrought "Shadow of the Templar", this is all enjoyable but falls somewhat short of excellence. That quibble would be rectified in the future, er, the past, yeah in 2020.

 Hällas by HÄLLAS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.02 | 7 ratings

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Hällas
Hällas Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars For the first part of their "adventure rock" trilogy, Swedish retro rockers HÄLLAS decided to just dip their toes in the murky headwaters of the early 1970s with a self titled EP that even concludes with a self titled track. At this point this is closer to good old fashioned head banger rock than the pastel bell bottomed sound of the full(LP)- length pair of released that would follow in the next half decade. While this works well on the ELOY meets BLUE OYSTER CULT meets JETHRO TULL like debut "Autumn in Space" and the SABBATH shaded assault of "Insomnia", by the time of "Tale of a Tyrant" the thrashing has irrevocably crossed over into pastiche, and licks with more than a whiff of "21st Century Schizoid Man" will either put you off or send you over the moon. "Hällas" offers clues as to further progression but ultimately ensnares itself in a form of heavy rock cage dance.

Thankfully, this release earned sufficient accolades to inspire the band to carry on and ultimately complete the trilogy, while most importantly evolving their own style that is so much more than a brimming basket of influences, though yes they do offer that as well!

 Conundrum by HÄLLAS album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 20 ratings

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Conundrum
Hällas Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars This was supposed to be a review of the new HEXVESSEL album but, thanks to Spotify, careened into a rocky crag in the form of fellow Nordics HALLAS, a group that was unknown to me less than 24 hours ago. They dub themselves "Adventure Rock", which isn't a bad description though it doesn't necessarily tie in with their resolutely retro ambitions, espousing a love of the hard rock of the 1970s and the beat driven rock of the 1980s.

They have been compared to BLUE OYSTER CULT and URIAH HEEP but seem to have a consistently lighter touch, the frequency of sharp rhythm guitar backing notwithstanding. I would throw in CAMEL, FM, OSIRIS and NEKTAR (at their best) to complete the very rough character sketch. I'm intrigued by the amount of interest on metal websites, which I can only conclude must have been the work of shrewd marketing, opening up an appreciative and much larger audience. This is maybe not the most appropriate reference given its obscurity and stylistic divergence, but when I hear them jam with their upturned Scandinavian roots, I do think of Norwegians THOBY LOTH, who, while entirely instrumental and lacking the placid passages, share the epic qualities of a Saga, and I mean the tale not the group. Still, for all their influences, HALLAS has managed to carve their own initials in a tree littered with 50+ years of adoring odes to music that matters.

Of their two full length releases, this new one is certainly the pick, with superior, indeed irrepressible melodies and less emphasis on organ in deference to atmospheric keyboards. In addition, this time around the vocals are perfectly allocated for the style, emotive but not threatening. The gloriously energetic yet delicate "Beyond Night and Day" is the first highlight of many. "Tear of a traitor" is an exuberant folk based anthem. The even more buoyant "Carry On" is one of the few tracks, from the 1980s or otherwise, that could make me nostalgic for that decade.

The last few tracks dial up the prog meter enough to ensnare the remaining listeners and readers. "Labyrinth of Distant Echoes" engages both body and spirit, while reinventing itself more times than a mere 7 minutes might justify. This devotion on "Blinded by the Emerald Mist" and concludes with "Fading Hero". I'm sure the band had their reasons related to this being the final installment of a trilogy, but I think the album is a bit bottom heavy, overloading the most ambitious pieces at the end, where more balance in the running order might have better illuminated the work's ample joy. This may have left me with less of a conundrum as to the final rating, which is still a solid 4+ stars.

 Excerpts from a Future Past by HÄLLAS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.17 | 9 ratings

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Excerpts from a Future Past
Hällas Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars HÄLLAS is one of those Swedish retro prog bands that has been getting a lot of attention in recent years for mining the 70s prog and hard rock world and adding some of the more modern production technologies along with influences from various genres ranging from black metal to synthpop. This band was formed in Jönköping in 2011 with the stable lineup of Tommy Alexandersson (bass, vocals), Alexander Moraitis (guitar), Marcus Pettersson (guitar), Kasper Eriksson (drums) and Nicklas Malmqvist (keyboards).

The band spend a few years honing their chops and released the self-titled EP independently in 2015 and while that four-track debut perfectly showcased the band's intent of bridging the gap between 70s Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, the tracks sounded a little too retro for my tastes although these guys clearly displayed their fiery passion for the retro melodic hard rock sounds that made the 70s such a wonderful musical place to begin with! While touted as a progressive rock band, the debut EP was clearly missing that aspect.

Two years later in 2017, HÄLLAS finally unleashed its debut full-length album titled EXCERPTS FROM A FUTURE PAST which saw the band develop its sound into something more unique and crafted a more sophisticated blend of their influences which found its way onto the Swedish indie label The Sign Records. While the band's proclivities are clearly rooted in the 70s hard rock action of Uriah Heep, the band dropped many of the Sabbath aspects and instead focused on the organ driven prog of early Uriah Heep with some of the blues rock inclinations of Wishbone Ash. Also more emphasized in the mix were ample uses of progressive rock as well as the organ parts adding more textures beyond a mere atmospheric backdrop.

With so many prog acts taking the leap into oft perceived complex pomp, HÄLLAS on the other hand keeps such excesses at bay and prefers the time signature deviations and overproduced slickness to be kept on a leash. What HÄLLAS focuses on instead are catchy hooks based in 70s inspired bluesy hard rock with the crossover prog characteristics shining through via organ driven technicalities and somewhat extended compositions at least on the ending tracks "Shadow of the Templar" and "Illusion Sky," however for the most part these tracks are based on simple guitar riffs in the vein of 70s bands like Rainbow, Wishbone Ash, UFO or Uriah Heep. Alexandersson's vocals display a tender vulnerability at odds with some of the brasher bravado that the 70s exhibited and the entire mood is a bit on the spacier side with subject matter revolving around medieval fantasy worship.

Gosh, these guys even look the part and if someone told you this band really was from 1974 or somewhere around that time, you could totally believe it! While many such retro bands go the full mile to play the part by recording on analog equipment, i'm not sure if HÄLLAS went to such extremes however given the warm organic sounds that perfectly replicate the guitar tones, groovy bass lows and period piece organ sounds, i would not doubt it for one minute if that was the case. The entire album that exceeds 42 minutes is actually rather dreamy for a hard rock album as the vocals are fairly monotonous and not even a tiny bit dramatic and the organ sounds are always providing an ambient backdrop if not outright taking the lead. The guitar riffs go up and down the scale while the bass and drum provide a stable if unremarkable rhythmic background.

If period piece retro rock is your thing with the additional touches of prog lite then HÄLLAS will be your up your alley but to be honest i'm not as impressed as many seem to be about this band. Yeah, all the boxes are checked for that authentic feel but when it comes down to it the compositions are hum along in a similar manner without a lot of dynamic changes. There seems to be missing that extra mojo that makes this style of music truly compelling and while the band is quite competent at crafting an album's worth of retro pseudo-prog from the 70s, it just feels a little too safe for my liking.

 Hällas by HÄLLAS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
3.02 | 7 ratings

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Hällas
Hällas Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars DEBUT EP

As far as progressive rock goes, Sweden is the gift that keeps on giving with seemingly no end in sight of extraordinary bands emerging from this nation of just over 10 million inhabitants. Emerging from the interior city of Jönköping is yet another band that has been catching the world's attention in the last few years. HÄLLAS is one of those retro bands that adapts older sounds to the newer sonic palettes of the 21st century.

The band formed in 2011 and was inspired by various artists ranging from Wishbone Ash, Kebnekaise, Anekdoten, November, Camel as well as disparate genres ranging from black metal to synth pop. The lineup has remained the same since the band's inception with the members Tommy Alexandersson (bass, vocals), Alexander Moraitis (guitar), Marcus Pettersson (guitar), Kasper Eriksson (drums) and Nicklas Malmqvist (keyboards).

This four-song self-titled EP was released independently in November 2015 and set the stage for the retro sounds that HÄLLAS has amalgamated into its own with a little Wishbone Ash blues rock mixed with Black Sabbath heft which makes this feel like a relic from the 70s with those classic guitar stomps, bluesy guitar licks and that familiar vocal style that sounds more like something from the Blue Oyster Cult but overall the musical flow comes off more as something Uriah Heep might have released in the early 70s.

HÄLLAS needed a bit more time to develop its sound a bit as this earliest offering is a bit too retro for my tastes and sounds more like a tribute to the past than anything innovative but yet this little EP sets the stage for greater things to come and the band nails these retro sounds quite well which accompanied by the benefit of a modern production job makes this a delight to listen to however at this point HÄLLAS is just getting warmed up. This one is probably best for those who have already warmed up to the band's sound but it's not a bad place to start either since it's only 24 minutes long.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition.

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