HELSOTT “Will And The Witch”

By Dr. Abner Mality

I think the Western is on its way back to mass popularity after decades in the dust. I’m seeing more Western themed items everywhere and that includes heavy metal. I talked with UNTAMED LAND a while back and now we have California’s HELSOTT, who brand themselves as a folk metal band. “Will And The Witch” is a full-bore concept album dealing with the rise of Billy the Kid and these owlhoots don’t spare any expense in bringing the story to life.

It’s quite a long album and flaws are apparent, but there’s also a ton of energy here and some catchy songs as well. They throw so much at you over the course of the album that you get kind of bowled over by it. Although not a grimy underground production by any means, most of the songs are fast and heavy but well integrated with piano and banjo to help give things that dusty Western feel. The vocals are mostly low grunts and black metal rasps, which sometimes doesn’t really fit the music. This is one case where I think more clean vocals would have helped. “Ripper” Owens pops up for a cup of coffee and a paycheck on “Independence Night”...would have liked to hear more of him on this.

My favorites tend to be the short and punchy metal brawlers like “I’ll Make Ya Famous”, “Reap the Whirlwind” and “Spit Bucket Brawl”. The longer epics are a bit more challenging to get into, like the mostly acoustic “Navajo Crow” and “Wielded As One”. They are a bucketload of guest musicians here, too many to list, and by last song “Regulators”, things started to wear thin for me. But this is a likable album and the flaws are not fatal. HELSOTT seem to be a band doing their best to entertain.