The illustrious Huck N Roll wrote recently that he spent his summer looking for the next great retro album. I write today that he needn’t have bothered; that album is to arrive after the summer and it’s called Excerpts from a Future Past. Produced by a Swedish band called Hällas, Excerpts represents their debut full-length and it’s really fantastic. Steeped in the hard rock, proto-heavy metal and progressive tendencies of the 1970s, Hällas so perfectly evokes this era without sounding remotely tired or trite. You may continue to read only after you’ve parted ways with your cash.

Even before I reach any substantive point about the song-writing, I absolutely love this aesthetic. Excerpts is simultaneously warm in its production yet cool in execution, swaggering through its 43-minute duration with Uriah Heep‘s jauntiness and lively playfulness. Simple guitar and keyboard leads dominate proceedings, occasionally layering in Maiden-esque harmonies, and entirely avoiding an overt reliance on Black Sabbath unlike so many throwback rock and metal bands. Touches of prog also reveal themselves on repeated listens, particularly on “The Golden City of Semyra” and “Shadow of the Templar.” The warm, organic, actually-played-together production is central to this success, with an evenly-balanced mix and dynamic master. The band simply gels and sounds cohesive in a way that super-technical, modern bands sometimes don’t.

Each component part of the songs written is exemplary. Tommy Alexandersson’s vocals are less whisky-soaked than whisky-drenched, crooning at a lower register. He’s far from most technically-gifted singer I’ve heard but he’s soulful, full of emotive character and perfect for the music. Nicklas Malmqvist’s keyboard is prevalent and fulfils whatever instrument is required, be that an organ most commonly but also faux strings and generic electronic synths. The most critical element is probably the guitar-work, undertaken by the adept duo of Alexander Moraitis and Marcus Pettersson. Leads are incredibly simple but far from dull, while progressive adornments in instrumental passages are intricate but not masturbatory. The two guitars sometimes harmonize and sometimes counter-point, weaving deftly between each other, and they’re always a pleasure to hear. Amazing moments are plentiful but special mention must go to “Star Rider” which boasts an exquisite opening riff and the record’s best solo. I’m convinced that those who don’t enjoy it are literally dead so are literally incapable of enjoyment generally. It’s a sure pick for my song of the year short-list.

Negatives are minor. I’d argue that the end of the record could be re-jigged so that the two longest tracks aren’t next to each other – they drag just slightly. The penultimate, “Shadow of the Templar,” has a great natural climax which would have made for an excellent overall conclusion. Tacking on “Illusion Sky” undermines this effect so while it’s a good track, it feels extraneous. I certainly don’t advocate for its complete removal given the album’s satisfactory 43-minute duration though slipping it elsewhere would serve itself and Excerpts better. The fade-to-black ending also rubs me the wrong way as I feel this is a limp finale in most contexts. But I really can’t linger on these points as they feel so insignificant next to the many thrills otherwise.

Excerpts exemplifies feel-good music for me; it’s so far up my alley it’s rubbing my prostate. Some of the miserable bastards I regretfully call co-writers whinged at my recommendation but they’re literally dead, as noted above. Some may say it’s derivative and I do have slight complaints but my overwhelming response is one of unadulterated joy. You like joy right?!


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: The Sign Records
Websites: facebook.com/hällas
Releases worldwide: October 13th, 2017

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  • Eli Valcik

    Hällas- X-men Future Past

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Ugh

    • El_Cuervo

      That’s an Ugh of approval right?

      • Ferrous Beuller

        It’s an onomatopoeic representation of how your awful taste makes me feel.

    • Bas

      Celtic Frosty sign of approval ;-)

  • I for one enjoy mutant metal.

  • RuySan

    This sounds great, and the cover art is appropriately sweet.

  • Igor Alencar

    I heard the embedded track and it reminds me a bit of night flight orchestra, but less fun. Still a good song though.

    • Vega Magnus

      Now I’m thinking of how much better it would sound with Bjorn Strid doing the singing instead of the guy they have.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Worst vocals of the year. He’s what I would sound like if I had no lips, was mind-numbingly drunk, and phonetically pronounced every lyric. Music is okay, though.

  • Innit Bartender

    Moody Blues metal? Is this a thing? Also, wasn’t Star Rider one of those 80s cringe-worthy mega-ballads? By which band?

  • ozzyzak

    I love the hell out of the two tracks I’ve heard from this so far, waiting for my vinyl to come from overseas!

    • drug_genosh

      Same!

  • hallowed

    Not nearly Greek enough.

  • Ironwood_Druid

    Oh hell yes.

  • Metal and Hockey

    The embedded track made me bored. And sleepy. The drummer looked kinda bored too

  • Iain Gleasure

    They have a wind machine to blow their hair in that video…

  • Levly

    I love the singer’s voice and this sounds very joyful indeed, I’m eager to hear the rest. I hope that means I’m not dead inside lol.

  • Kronos

    I still don’t understand why you like this.

    • Master of Muppets

      Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to talk about Enzo and the Glory Ensemble? I can sense that you are full of pain and anger, perhaps some Jesus would do you some good.

      • Tofu muncher

        this thread screams: You are precocious.

        • Master of Muppets

          Well you are precious, so take that, name-caller!

    • El_Cuervo

      wtf is In Contact

      • Kronos

        You’re hopeless.

        • El_Cuervo

          Just Googled “In Contact metal band” and nothing relevant emerged.

          • Nukenado

            Dude, that’s Caligula’s Horse’s new album…

          • Absolomb

            There’s no such band called Caligula’s Horse.

          • Master of Muppets

            This thread is beautiful.

          • Kronos

            Doubly hopeless.

    • Ghio

      Saw Caligula play last night, stellar gig. Lead singer needs to telegraph his stage-dives better though… his third dive he went at an angle into a different part of the crowd and I’m pretty sure they dropped him haha

  • The embedded audio is kinda Messenger gone Thin Lizzy. Not so bad.

  • Max Williams

    Ran across them on Spotify several months ago and really loved what I heard. Can’t wait to hear this new album!

  • Wilhelm

    BOC vibes, love it!

    • Tom Busler

      Whatever Boards of Canada album you have, I need.

      • Pyramid Head

        I’m pretty sure he meant BÖC. The Umlauts made a difference, at long last.

      • Hah, whenever I see BOC I instantly think Boards of Canada as well. Such a shame they aren’t really active any longer.

      • Wilhelm

        You whippersnappers are hopeless.

  • Nukenado

    Good, but not as lively as I’d like my happy metal to be.

    ……
    Needs more Alestorm.

    • Nukenado

      Eh, it’s not my thing but it’s pretty cool.

  • I.B. Hurtin

    “it’s so far up my alley it’s rubbing my prostate”. Probably my least favorite mental image today. But still funny.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Sounds as though someone’s been lying to El Cuervo about just exactly how far into the alley his prostate resides.

    • Jack Outjers

      Just copy/pasted the same sentence with the intention to post it, seems you beat me to it. Well done.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    It looks like they borrowed brand new “vintage” clothing for the photo shoot but the clothes are so itchy they can barely stand still.

  • Thatguy

    Band photo says ‘what a bunch of nice boys.’

    Surely these guys and El C are taking the piss.

  • Gtheperson

    The review made me excited, the music made me go to sleep. Duel’s Witchbanger is still my retro rock of the year.

  • Tanuki

    Judging by the expressions, poddlehair just felt something rubbing his prostate. beardo next to him looks like he might know something about it as well.
    I’m digging the attached track though.

  • James Utvandraren

    It’s like rifling through your weird uncle’s vinyl collection, and finding some odd band you never heard of, with a weird album cover. You end up listening to it for ten or so minutes and then putting it back, shrugging it off as forgettable and never coming back to it again. It’s like an album of really shitty filler tracks from a decent band on a bad day. Maybe I need to be high as fuck to get it?

    I get it… it is so “fresh” to be prog-retro, and yay for all the 70’s authentic vibes and all that. But the singer is monotone, the melodies lacking, the choruses infantile and the instrumentation predictable.

    However, I DO LOVE the production.

    Pass. Going back into the old milk crate (which is spray painted black, of course).

  • I like the embedded track, but the other track available doesn’t do anything for me. The vocals are a weak point. Is he singing in English all the time? He sounds like a guy who’s not sure of the lyrics and mumbles through parts to disguise it. I’m not sure that his vocals are strong enough to carry this.

  • I understand the appeal of the “feel good” aspect of the band’s sound. But the delivery seems so amateurish and derivative (Blue Oyster Cult, a dash of Stevie Nicks perhaps…), it’s very hard for me to listen to without picking it apart. Pleasant, warm production, but I’ll stick with the Night Flight Orchestra for my retro fix.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    There is something amateurish about this. And the singer is weak. But dang … I can’t stop listening to “Star Rider”. It is not sophisticated or even very professional, but there is something incredibly endearing about it.

  • Ronnie James Dio Linnane

    i wanted to hate this so much…but it has lured me in

  • R.Daneel Olivaw
  • Malhorne

    I just don’t get it.

  • De2013

    Reminds me of my long foregone years as teenager.

  • ronin1572

    This is what a Dethklok album would sound like if Brandon Small based the band around the slowest parts of 70s classic rock bands.

  • Baltech

    Damn, if all the tracks are as addictive as Star Rider… I want more retro-bands to take their inspiration from the mighty fine Uriah Heep. We got enough Sabbathicals by now :D

  • h0ttentot

    Man, what’s happening here?

  • Jon Hartley

    I dig this, but it sounds like the band is fronted by a 700-year-old vampire. I’m not sure how I’ll like his vocals over the course of the entire new album.

  • Jesperten

    I don’t get all the negativity about the vocals. To me that’s what makes this album some of the best music I have heard in a damn long time :-)
    I guess that I’m a simple man. I hear 70s-ish sounding music, I press ‘like’…

  • lrn2swim

    Love it. Reminds me of 70’s era Eloy. If you haven’t listened to them yet, might I recommend the albums Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes, Dawn, Floating, Ocean, and Power and the Passion. All masterpieces.

    • El_Cuervo

      Thanks for the rec.

  • tool

    Damn it. 20 seconds into that track and I already know I’m parting ways with my money and even looking for where to get it on vinyl

  • beurbs

    Almost every track is in the same key and tempo, which leads to a sameness that made me feel like the album was one long rambling song. The Steely Danisms are a nice change for 2017 but the vocals are amazingly bad, I can’t remember the last time I heard a singer with so few redeeming qualities. I wish I caught the “joy” angle that’s discussed here, but I didn’t. If you want joy then pull out Mountain’s “Climbing!” or the latest Astronoid.