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Hällas – “The Astral Seer” (Song Premiere)


Despite not always seeing eye to eye, progressive rock and heavy metal can agree on a few core ideals. Both genres will praise you for being good at your instrument, and for aiming way over the top musically and conceptually. Most importantly, both metal and prog understand the sheer joy of “throwing a third on it”.

What do I mean by this? Simple. Say you’ve just written a slick and catchy lead melody on guitar. “The Man” would tell you that you’re all set, that adding anything more would be excessive. But you don’t care about seeming excessive, you’re a metal guitarist damn it! So you flip off “The Man” and harmonize the shit out of that lead guitar melody with a major or minor third. You’ve just thrown a third on it.

This practice is as essential to metal’s aesthetics as distortion. Name a great metal band and there is a near 100% chance that they have thrown a third on it at least once. Iron Maiden have built an entire career out of it. Black Sabbath and Metallica both wrote songs that attempted to throw as many thirds on one riff as possible until the universe caved in on itself. Melodic death metal wouldn’t exist without throwing a third on it, and neither would most power metal.

Hällas understand the inherent power, and unabashed radness of guitar harmonies. The Swedish prog quintet toss out harmonies like party favors on their new single “The Astral Seer” from their upcoming debut full length Excerpts From The Future Past. Guitarists Alexander Moraitis and Marcus Petersson weave in and out of “The Astral Seer” with counter melodies anytime they’re given the opportunity. The song is an ever flowing stream of notes, all lightly crisped but not full distorted as to give each instrument clarity. Nicklas Malmqvist, the band’s keyboardist, is responsible for Excerpts From The Future Past’s mix as well as some of the finer moments on “The Astral Seer”. Not only does Malmqvist’s organ playing give Hällas’s guitarists a warm bed for their bouncing harmonized triplets, but his squelching synthesizer also gets the spotlight during the song’s twisty-turny bridge. That bridge, full of syncopation and off kilter rhythms, is where Hällas prove their prog bona fides (if that D&D-ass cover didn’t seal the deal) but the surging pace of the verses and the band’s dedication to making each passage as gloriously harmonized as possible mean that they will have no problem appealing to fans of old-school metal the world over.

Stream “The Astral Seer” below. Excerpts From The Future Past is out via The Sign on October 13th.

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