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After many years in the business, Mallorca-based Helevorn's third full-length 'Compassion Forlorn' finally saw release. We took the opportunity to talk to frontman Josep Brunet about the band's history and future.

Interview with Helevorn.

(1) Greetings, and many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Doom-Metal.com. Could we start by introducing you to our readers?

Cheers! Sure, the band started back in 1999, we released “Prelude”, our first demo in 2001. In 2005 we recorded our first CD titled “Fragments”, with obvious Gothic-Doom influences. In 2007 we toured supporting Swallow the Sun in their first tour in Spain and Portugal, and in 2010 Solitude Productions released our second album “Forthcoming Displeasures”, produced by Jens Bogren (Katatonia, Opeth, Paradise Lost…), musically taking a step forward, turning into melodic Doom-Death style and improving the music production. We did a few gigs around Europe and now we are promoting our third album “Compassion Forlorn”, also released by Solitude in September 2014.

(2) So, Helevorn was originally formed in 1999. What brought you together in the first place? Was it always intended to be a Doom band?

In the begining we had a female singer becase we couldn't stop listening to bands with male/female voice duets, we loved the playing between the sweet and the aggressive stuff, we liked that type of melodic Gothic-Doom bands.

We always wanted to do “heavy” music and mix all kind of sentiments like nostalgia with aggressiveness and with the music intensity of the guitar riffs, keyboards with growls and clean voices.

(3) What were your main musical inspirations back then? Are they still the same now, or do you draw your songwriting mainly from other influences? If so, what are they?

Back in that time we're listening to TRISTANIA, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, LACUNA COIL, THE GATHERING, etc… but always inspired by '90s Doom bands like ANATHEMA, PARADISE LOST or CELESTIAL SEASON, something we have maintained and will always be there.

We have changed a lot and we listen any kind of music that inspires us to explain the torturous and pathetic path that human beings are taking and that is something that writers like MARISSA NADLER or LISA CUTHBERT or bands like DEAD CAN DANCE or even DRACONIAN or LONGING FOR DAWN can give us.

We work really hard to create from our deepest sentiments and values and we don't think about what our music is gonna sound like when we're composing. If our listeners expect that with our music we are going to discover something unique, they should listen to another kind of music, without a doubt.

(4) And what do you consider to be the essential qualities of Doom? How do you go about bringing them into your music?

For me Doom is a way to understand music and art itself. I think that the lyric parts and music have an important interconnection, because one doesn't work without the other.

The nostalgia, the decay, the misanthropy and at the same time the aggressiveness and desperation is what makes music to move, the sentiments are able to create melodies and basic rhythms, without that it makes no sense and that's why they are slow rhythms with tons of high emotional discharge. For that reason we're using keyboards and clean voices, to increase a depressive ambience, powerful and strong basic rhythms to give darkness to the compositions, guitar melodies to set the desperation and growl voices as a symbol of suffering.

The band: Josep (vocals), Sandro (guitar), Samuel (guitar)
Enrique (Keyboards), Xavi (drums), Guillem (bass).

(5) You're based on Mallorca, which is quite a small island. How much effect did that have on the way the band developed, and on becoming known elsewhere?

We know it's a factor against us. First because we have to take a plane everytime we want to play abroad, costs are important. Second, it makes your playing range very small. Even so we don't complain, we live well here and we do what we like, we're not going to be victimized and we're not going to say it would work better for us living somewhere else. Not at all.

(6) You released the 'Prelude' demo in 2001, but it wasn't until 2005 when the first album, 'Fragments' came out. What took so long? Was it writing the material, recording it, or finding a deal to release it?

We had many problems with the line up in that time. In 2002 we recorded a full album and during the mixing the guitarist and the female vocalist left the band, so we made the decision to leave that project and start the band from zero with only one guitar player and only a male vocalist until we recorded “Fragments”, that's why it took us few years for us to adapt ourselves and start to compose new songs, we all thought the band would not last more than few months.

Now I think we made the right decision going ahead with the new project after the renewal of the band.

(7) It was another five years before you signed to BadMoodMan Music and released 'Forthcoming Displeasures'. Is that the natural speed you like to work at, or were there difficulties involved in getting the album out?

Right, we are slow composers!, I don't understand bands releasing records every two or three years, it's awesome.

It's not only a matter of dedication in composing new stuff, it's after when the slowest part comes, when you are looking for label trying to edit your material (it's never fast and easy).

We would like to release an album every two years but unfortunately we are not professionals.

(8) What did you think were the major improvements between 'Fragments' and 'Forthcoming Displeasures'? You had Jens Bogren and Johan Örnborg from Fascination Street come over from Sweden to record and mix it, so obviously production quality was a big deal. Was there anything else you felt stepped up in similar fashion?

Definitely, the production was much superior than in “Fragments” and the studio work with Jens and Johan was tougher but we learned a lot.

The song composition was more worked and we had a more defined stylish line feeling more self confident with what we were doing, a classic Doom-Death without any of the Gothic Metal influence.

It was the achievement of wanting to be a band that loves the strength and the rawness of the guitars and this is the base of our form of understanding the mixing of Doom with melodies, that was the real point of no return.

(9) Were you pleased with the reactions to it, from press and public? Was it successful as you'd have hoped?

Yes, we were very happy with the general response of the public and the press and overall it was like this because sincerely, we don't put any expectations when we release a record.

When we make a record we don't think if it's gonna like more or less one thing or another, we just do it for ourselves, from our perception and with the maximum passion.

Has it been a success? I don't know, it was more representative than “Fragments”.

(10) And now, still on BadMoodMan, is this year's release, 'Compassion Forlorn', a logical and consistent follow-up to 'Forthcoming Displeasures'. Is this where the band's natural sound and inclination lies?

Without a doubt, we think that is a very important step for the band, mainly because it's another quality jump more, the arrangements and the work in the studio has been even harder and we keep polishing our style and our way of understanding music.

You can see maturity and clarity in our ideas and the songs have a more fluid development, more varied songs with different sensations in each song.

(11) It's been out for about a month now. What sort of feedback have you had so far? Are you pleased with how it's doing?

We are in the band's best moment of his history. We have sold out twice of the CD's in our webshop, the reviews are awesome, the album has been nominated in many press medias as the “best Metal album of the year”, we receive lots of messages supporting the band...

We are very proud of what we've obtained with this new album and we are very happy with the people that follow us and support us to continue, now the only thing is a new year full of gigs to show all the band potential, where we really enjoy and where we feel comfortable.

(12) Do you have any plans for anything to follow it with yet? Or do you all like to relax and take some time off before considering any new material?

We never stop, before we return to the live concerts we would like to finish a small studio proyect that could be nice. We do not compose between concerts so that means we will not work on new songs until end of 2015.

(13) You credit all music to Helevorn - how do you go about composing? Is it all done as a group, or do you come up with ideas individually? Do you generally fit lyrics to the music, or have the lyrics first and write music around them?

Normally one of us creates and records a basic riff or a song structure, then each one of us starts to contribute to develop the original idea until the song becomes part of us.

I first think in the global concept of the record, what will it be about, then later shred it bit by bit with the different songs. Always music comes first before lyrics, I adapt them to the music and I work the melodies separately, that's how we work, no big secrets.

(14) What about live performances: you don't seem to have been very active recently, at least with major shows? Is it just difficult to get the whole band together for touring, especially from your island location?

That's right, it's been some years without having an even flow of concerts, we keep concentrating a lot in composing and studio work. We hope this will change during 2015 because we want to play live and show to the public that “Compassion Forlorn” is a great work and live sounds awesome!

Of course, being six members it's difficult getting the band together, and travelling costs are higher being on an island, it needs a lot of planning.

(15) Do you have any plans to appear live in support of the 'Compassion Forlorn' release?

Yes, now we have two confirmed concerts, one is the METAL OVER MALTA in March, with DRACONIAN, WEEPING SILENCE and DAYLIGHT DIES and the other one is the DOOM ROTTEN DEATH in Berlin, the 18th of April together with SATURNUS and many other bands.

We hope we can confirm more dates shortly.

(16) What's your overall ambition, as a band? What would you like to hear people saying about you, now and perhaps in future?

To us what brings us life is playing live, with no doubt, and what we expect from the people is that they can relax and try to integrate the overall concept of the band, the music and the message, to really feel what they listen to, because it has many interpretations and many emotional messages behind each song. Don't like it? No problem, we accept it, we don't pretend to satisfy everybody but please give us a chance and let yourselves go with the flow.

What we don't like is people that keep making absurd comparisons all the time to demonstrate how much they know about music, because everything is invented, what we offer is honesty, passion and coherence and obviously we do like constructive criticism that can make us grow and improve ourselves.

(17) To close, I hope we've given you the chance to present a good picture of the band and its history, but if there is anything you'd like to add, the last words are yours.

Sure you did, it has been a pleasure to answer all your questions!

(18) It only remains, then, for me to thank you again for your time and the opportunity to talk with you. All the best for the future!

Thank you to all of you, see you soon!

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Helevorn bandpage.

Interviewed on 2015-01-26 by Mike Liassides.
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