Hemelbestormer is a band from Limburg, which is normally a gentle, quiet and friendly place. Since 2012, this band has been combining two of my favorite things in music: making it slow and keeping their mouths shut. As an instrumental music aficionado I have been a fan of them ever since I first saw them at Dunk! Festival. They'll be there again this year, hurray. They will probably play a few pieces from their brand new album, 'A Ring Of Blue Light', which is perfectly fine by me. I can already imagine the gig, it will undoubtedly be hugely impressive.
Well, for starters, Hemelbestormer are incredibly talented in creating narrative music. It's a blend of ambient, post rock and doom with a touch of black metal. Their previous efforts have been immersive journeys, which along with bassist Kevin's gloomy visuals guarantee a complete live experience. On this new album, they seem to take things a bit further. While opener ''Eight Billion Stars' builds a bridge between the old and the new, 'Towards The Nebula' adds kraut- and space rock, plus the awesome riffing of Dutch progressive legends Kong. Doom, post rock and ambient are still a massive part of Hemelbestormer's sound, but that sound is gracefully expanding.
Obviously that is a good thing. You will find a well attuned band that steadily grows, evolves and opens up. You can hear that in the lingering track 'Redshift'. The build-up seems hesitant, carefully adding elements of downtempo electronic music, dark jazz and noise. Instead of bursting out in an apotheosis, this track somehow starts feeling like a haunting piece of dark ambient mixed with old school post rock (if there is anything as "old school post rock"). Those noise samples are brilliant, take it from me. The breather 'Blue Light' is exactly that, a mild and gentle cinematic post rock shortie to ease your nerves.
And then there is 'The Serpent Bearer', closing this album in style. Maybe this is what it would sound like if Godflesh and Russian Circles would decide to work together. This is my personal favorite on this album, one which lifts the levels of epicness to the max. That grinding guitar riff will undoubtedly make many heads shake. It's a perfect closer for a near perfect album. "Near perfect?" Yes, I think that is close enough. It's definitely one of the most interesting albums of the year but let's keep Hemelbestormer on their toes, motivating them to do even better next time. I think that would be a huge challenge for these guys.
Recommended? Well, let me put it this way: don't come complaining to me when you walk to their merch-stand on Dunk! festival only to find out that the album is sold-out!