The mountains are calling, and they’re declaring that you immerse yourself in the mist – HELGA‘s Wrapped in Mist, to be exact.

Release date: November 24, 2023 | Season of Mist | Facebook | Bandcamp

The end of the year being a musical winter as it relates to the sheer quantity of releases coming out is a well-established phenomenon. Many artists avoid releasing in late November/December like the plague, as they’re unlikely to appear in the all the premature year-end lists that somehow feature modern-day Metallica in the top 10; who would genuinely want to be on that list? Anyways, I find the end of the year to be the perfect time to have a brief reprieve from the constant barrage of records dropping to comfortably snuggle up alongside some deep cuts that would’ve been otherwise overshadowed. One such discovery I made was an album titled Wrapped in Mist by new Season of Mist signee, HELGA.

A new, unheard of Swedish band being signed to Season of Mist is nothing to take lightly, as there must clearly be something special about them to make that huge career jump. In the case of HELGA, you’ll come to find that there was good reason indeed and your ears will be all the better for it. If I had to boil it down to a cheap comparison just for the sake of trying to appeal to those who haven’t heard of the band (which is basically everybody), I’d say HELGA are a blend of the more accessible bits of Heilung with Leprous as a backing band and a touch of Alcest here and there. You could even say that HELGA gives MYRKUR a run for her money, as while I enjoyed Spine, I couldn’t help but feel several of the songs there were half-baked.

While similar bands may sparingly add folk elements throughout their songs, what sets HELGA apart from their counterparts is that the music is heavily reliant on such elements and not the other way around. The folk touches on Wrapped in Mist aren’t just touches or embellishments for the sake of appearing unique; rather, they are a core component that the rest of the sound is built entirely upon. Couple this with the fact that this debut record consists of songs featuring a wide variety of unique sounds and styles that it makes for a highly enjoyable listening experience worthy of many revisits.

The first track, “Skogen mumlar”, does an excellent job in itself at introducing you to HELGA’s diverse sonic palette, with the opening vocals swirling around you, wrapping you in aural mist as the album title would cleverly suggest. The meaty ‘traditional’ instrumentation (being guitar/bass/drums in this case) gives the song some oomph while accompanied by the lavish orchestrations and seemingly countless vocal layers that gorgeously harmonize with one another. You’ll come across this tribal clap beat during the bridge that segues to an extravagant outro sequence that is just stunning in how it unravels.

At this point, you’ll find HELGA’s secret weapon to be the haunting, unorthodox vocal melodies that are so intricately interwoven with one another. That isn’t to suggest that they’re a one-trick pony, with the music being carried by the vocals while the instrumentation drags behind; that couldn’t be further from the truth. With that being said, there is absolutely zero shortage of wondrous vocal passages throughout Wrapped in Mist. Focusing purely on vocals, from the ethereal and uplifting outro to “Burden”, to the depressingly bleak, bone-chilling Neige-esque shrieks heard in “Farväl” and “Som en trumma”, to the triumphant earworm of a track that is “Vast and Wild”, there is so much attempted and successfully captured on Wrapped in Mist. All of this is elevated by such a tight instrumental package, making for each track leaving a lasting impression on the listener in more ways than one.

The fact that Wrapped in Mist was released at this time of year doesn’t necessarily help HELGA much, unfortunately, but I implore you to get familiar with its twists and turns regardless. The sheer amount of variety and the overall pacing of the record is so beautifully executed that it is impressive how much is packed in just under fifty minutes; not a moment feels wasted nor is it ever spiritless. Reflecting on all that has been said, it is even more remarkable that the utterly enchanting Wrapped in Mist is a debut record, no wonder it caught Season of Mist’s attention. Succumb to the FoMO, as you will not regret it in the slightest, that I can guarantee.

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