Basking in the sultry heat and sweltering ambience of Bones In The Closet, the new album from Norwegian narrators of scintillating murder stories and rapacious shadows Helldorado, the overriding thought whilst within its seductive devil spawn arms is that you are being cradled by one of the major contenders for album of the year. The twelve track release is sensational, evocative beauty and dark intent saddling the senses for a Tarantino/ Morricone sculpted ride of the purest pleasure and imagination.
Bones In The Closet is the fifth album from Helldorado and again draws on a startling and provocative mix of blues, country folk, rock, and shadowed misdemeanours with a stroll through Mexican deserts and tequila soaked climes for this release. As across their previous releases the cinematic lures of their music is as potent as its sensory incitement and here leaves the listener perpetually wiping the dust from their eyes and pulling their mental stetson/sombrero down whilst chewing on a cigar Eastwood style. There is strong diversity running through the release too though, from walking through the smokey hauntings of a hanging man scenario down in the south you can find yourself breaking into a garage rock soundtrack to a Russ Meyer film or a blues bar atmosphere with whiskey in hand. It is a thrilling and evolving encounter which with essences of the likes of Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Stan Ridgeway joining those of Mariachi El Bronx, Guano Padano, or Dennis Hopper Choppers, never gives the passions a moment to grab their breath.
The trio of Dag S. Vagle (lead vocal, guitar, organ, piano, autoharp, mellotron), Hans A. Wassvik (bass, backing vocal) and Morten Jackman (drums, saw, percussion), immediately cast the long arms of the sun onto the neck with opener Gallow´s Bird whilst sizzling the surrounding air with a blaze of brass persuasion from the trumpet of Ole Ellingsen which springs from an instantly inviting drum burst. The guitars gather in the senses with devilish temptation whilst the bass of Wassvik adds its individual prowl to the dawning scene soon narrated by the excellent tones of Vagle. Passionate and soulful he bellows out with emotive glory whilst the guest backing vocals of Pål Jackman play co-conspirator in drawing thoughts deeper in to the compelling song. Virtually dripping sweat from the humid embrace driven by vocal and musical fire, there is an instantaneous ardour bred with the track such its intensive might and rasping charm.
As the following Misery And Woe boldly steps forward with melodramatic keys framing the door into its expressive heart and Vagle cast his spellbinding delivery upon the ear again, it still is hard after many listens to the album and previous tracks that the band is Norwegian. They make the likes of Chris Issak sound less American than Helldorado and it just enriches the imagery and adds the deepest depth to the transportation of thoughts into their aural paintings. The second song is a slowly burning reflection of despair and regret, the tale of an unavoidable destiny with thick emotion swamping every syllable and melodic beauty from the cursed soul.
Dead World with its garage rock stomp switches the scenery for a sonic kaleidoscope of psychedelic colours and mutually vibrant emotions, the keys dazzling the ear whilst the guitar twists and turns with melodic enticement. With harmonic squalls thrilling with rich textures of The Stones to their crowd and The Doors like bait of the keys, it is a raucous and vital storm of blistering joy and an exciting temper between the surrounding songs. Its successor John McMiller like the second song on the release is a powerful and demandingly evocative piece of songwriting and staggering realisation. Another dark hearted soul laying open his past and looking for an end to his life’s previous purpose, the track carries his declaration forward on a gait which is a shadowed romp, its lively surges breaking out from more restrained and arguably redemption searching melodic caresses though the centre of the tale is not asking for such. It is another varied and staggering discharge of invention and imagination which is rewarding with further rapture from the heart.
Only four songs in and no more convincing is needed to the triumph before the ear but the release just continues to exhaust the passions, the likes of the feisty and magnetic Please Come Back which again features Pål Jackman on support vocals, the brilliant and irresistible Times of Trial a true authentic mariachi classic, and the title track with its muggy noir corners and western sparks, continuing the impossible addictive influence of the album whilst Two Headed Horseman with its garage punk tipped crescendos within more sun-baked glamour and the sixties lilted road trip of ´69 Camaro just rip further furnace hot lust from the heart in their and the album’s direction.
Completed by a final trio of brilliance in the haunting Lost Highway Motel a place home to lost souls of all inclinations, the black tale of love and violence Johnny´s Song, and a delicious version of the Morricone piece Sixty Seconds To What?, there is little left to say but sigh like an overfed diner and declare Bones In The Closet one of the major highlights of the year so far and will certainly be acclaimed so by the closing of its eyes too. With a mention also for the slide guitar contribution on the album from Ry Krüger required, this is a release everyone should dive into without reservation, and Helldorado a cemented lustful passion for this site.
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