Written By: John Rabb
Label: Minty Fresh – Rating:
As a heavy metal critic, there are certain things you come to expect when you’re given an album to review – loud, distorted guitars, pounding rhythms, growling vocals, apocalyptic themes and imagery. You know, good-old predictable heavy metal. When I saw the band’s name and the album title I thought, “Piece of cake, just another day at the office.”
Boy was I wrong! Maybe I should have taken the time to look at the happy rainbow and bouncing bus on the cover, or the “rock/pop” genre classification the album came with. Maybe then I would have realized I was dealing with something altogether different.
Hymns in the Key of 666, the debut album from Swedish novelty act Hellsongs takes a refreshing (almost comical) approach to a few of heavy metal’s greatest hits. These tunes are dismantled, pulled apart, and made virtually unrecognizable – even to the trained ear. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any similarities (save for the lyrics, which, of course, sound completely different) between the Hellsongs version and its original counterpart. Every song on the album, including such epically evil tracks as “Paranoid,” “Blackened,” and “Symphony of Destruction” is made wonderfully pleasant and optimistic with soothing acoustics and Bergnéhr’s beautiful voice, a far cry from the popular appeal from the originals.
The record, in effect, tames AC/DC, turns Black Sabbath tender and beautiful, and makes Megadeth palatable to your grandmother. We’ve seen this in the past – from Metallica’s S&M album to Tori Amos’ rendition of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” – when a band attempts to turn a genre on its head for its own creative purposes. So the listener only needs to know that, despite the group’s name and album title, what you have isn’t Swedish death metal, but gentle, pastoral covers done in a subdued acoustic manner. In the end, Hymns in the Key of 666 may not be something you’ll end up putting in your regular rotation, but it is an interesting concept and a lot of fun to listen to.
Siri Bergnéhr – Vocals, Shakers and Tambourine
Johan Bringhed – Grand Piano, Keyboards and Vocals
Kalle Karlsson – Guitars and Vocals