Hjel is a one-man atmospheric/melodic black metal project, coming from Germany. Max, the mastermind plays the guitar, bass and performs the vocals of this project.
Kalte Asche is the debut, and what a great start. The album is what atmospheric black metal fans want to hear. So let’s talk about it:
The album contains five tracks, each track’s duration ranges from 07:00 to 10:00 minutes, which proves that this guy is introducing something, not just filler tracks.
The first track is “Im Nebel”, a pretty good intro to the album. The song started with a melodic black metal part with catchy riffs. Then comes the vocals, which are pretty good through the whole album. Nearly at the minute 04:30 the 2nd part of the song starts. Great slow tempo drum beats followed by a solo that ends the song perfectly.
The second track is “Ruinen” which I consider the highlight of this album. It’s a perfect melodic black metal track with atmospheric influences. It started with fantastic riffs, followed by gloomy, melancholic yet awesome growls. Then it blends into a fast tempo drum beats with catchy riffs. After that, the second part of the song starts with a soothing acoustic part, and after you are relaxed and in that sedative mood it takes you back where it all began in the intro of the song with the same tempo and the same great vocals followed by a solo until the end of the track. If you want to get someone into this band you got to recommend this track first and it won’t take much before he loves the album.
The third track, “Katle Asche”, which is also the album’s title is almost at the same level as “Ruinen”. It’s a perfect melodic/atmospheric black metal track. It started slower than the previous two tracks with a soothing intro but the riffs are catchy enough to take you further through the track. Then a faster drum tempo with fast catchy riffs starts that felt more like Viking Metal. After that the tempo went a bit slower again with the same riffs as the start of the song. It felt like a great trip throughout the track. The track is ended by another soothing acoustic part.
The fourth track, “Untergang” started heavier than the previous tracks. Still not far from the previous tracks’ level which makes the album consistent. The last 4 minutes of the song is a pure awesome instrumental part. Other than being perfect musically the atmosphere itself attracts your ears. You won’t feel time while you are listening to it.
The fifth and the last track of this masterpiece is “Ende”. A five minutes track that is a blend of influences from nature, i.e. rain and thunder sounds and soothing acoustic parts. Personally I would prefer to see this track as the intro of the album but being at the end is still as much awesome as being at the beginning.
Generally, it is a great start for a black metal project. I consider this release as one of the top 10 albums of the year. I give it an overall rating of 9.3/10. As an atmospheric/melodic black metal band you will never regret giving this album a try.
Nabil Hossam / Metalheads Forever Magazine