Hell has never seemed so soft, silky and beguilingly beautiful.
Michael Quinn 2008-08-07
Metalheads beware! Here is an album that is going to charm your midnight-black pants off, leaving you floating carefree and blissed out on little fluffy clouds of surprisingly seductive gorgeousness. That's if it doesn't provoke you to acts of savage, indiscriminate violence.
Hymns In The Key Of 666, the debut long-player from stylish Swedish threesome, Hellsongs – vocalist Harriet Ohlsson, guitarist Kalle Karlsson and Johan Bringhed on keyboards – takes the pedal right off the heavy metal to deliver startlingly laidback, low-fi and instantly likable covers of what would otherwise be deafening 'volume-up-to-11' rock classics. Hell has never seemed so soft, silky and beguilingly beautiful.
As musical homages go, what Hymns in the Key of 666 lacks in volume it more than makes up for in illuminating inventiveness. So, Black Sabbath's Paranoid suddenly becomes a thing of bittersweet beauty, Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It acquires a surprisingly level-headed plangency and AC/DC's Thunderstruck is transformed into a velvet-enveloped fancy that even your granny would want to sashay along to. Even Megadeth's apocalyptic Symphony Of Destruction is tamed and made to sound, for all the world, like Regina Spector jamming with the Scissor Sisters. And very good it is, too!
Throughout, Hellsongs work their loungemetal magic on songs by Iron Maiden, Europe, Slayer, Metallica and Saxon with alchemical ease. Particularly admirable is just how effortlessly assured it all sounds. And how sincere it is. This is categorically not the Mike Flowers Pop Orchestra. There's no post-modern irony, no tongues stuck knowingly in cheeks, and no winking campness here.
Ohlsson has a voice as sublime as moonlight falling on silk – a little like early Stina Nordenstam but decidedly less tentative and fragile – that is elegantly cushioned by the eloquent precision-tooled accompaniments of Karlsson and Bringhed. If this is how Hell sounds, I'm off to start sinning straight away!