Once, sequestered away in the far reaches of Swedish hinterland, a shrouded girl wandered alone through interminable forest. Chanting psalms amidst birch and pine, her choral voice drifted like birds through an evening mist. The chapel choir she sang with had gifted and honed her voice, but woodland and lake would always be her church. Her name – Helga.
Alas, despite her reverence for fjäll and forest, a beckoning had begun to stir deep within Helga’s heart. A longing, yearning to be heard and to share the majesty of song. Gathering books and belongings, Helga bid farewell and emerged from the wilderness that had nurtured her since she was a child.
“Singing in small local bands I’d experimented with songs in both English and Swedish, but sometimes English just felt misplaced, you know? Like a betrayal of where the song is coming from, where I am from. I love languages, exploring the meaning of that which I don’t know.” – Helga
Journeying west in 2019, Helga settled across the North Sea in the old Viking town of York, North Yorkshire. Surrounded by pub-filled streets of cobblestone and restored Roman walls, York was host to droves of cameraladen tourists and scholars of two thriving universities. These strange anachronistic surroundings would pave the foundation for a myriad of rueful reflections and musings, a far cry to the world Helga had left behind.
Previously, Helga had joined forces with Icons Creating Evil Art and released two solo EPs, Nebulous (2018) and The Autumn Lament (2019). Inviting tribal drums, ominous strings and throat singing in accompaniment on songs such as Mörker and Haunted, it was evident that her artistic transition was compelled to darker pursuits. Meanwhile… Not far away, three childhood friends (Cai, Cameron and Ryan) stared across a table at one another spellbound. Playing together in various bands, such as ‘People as Places as People’, since 2009, they knew they had found something special.
“One day Cameron stumbled upon Helga’s advertisement saying she was looking to put a band together. As soon as we heard that ethereal voice, we knew we had to move mountains to somehow be a part of this project.” – Cai
Following several brief stints with different drummers, the band soon found its final element in the form of precocious poly-instrumentalist, Sami Javed. Teaming up with producer Luiz Felipe Netto, the quintet was complete. The rest – as they say – was history. HELGA was born.
Summoning a plethora of layers and genre, HELGA culminated their premier album Wrapped in Mist into dirgeful lamentations of mortality and mental health, punctuated by formidable drums, spectral strings and chugging riffs. The album’s opening track, Skogen Mumlar (The Forest Murmurs), transcends forthwith into emotive dreamscapes that leave hairs trembling on goose-pimpled skin. Ennio Morricone echoing as the intro’s muse.
“We draw on many different influences, from Swedish folk to progressive metal, post-rock to black metal to pop. Distilling this into a single genre is a challenge.” – Cai
But as the journey through Wrapped in Mist transpires, songs such as Farväl (Farewell) reveal HELGA’s black metal and darker sensibilities. Bewitching through this myriad range, the album’s waltzing coda flirts with a melodic baroque that crescendos with Opeth-esque climax.
The inception of Wrapped in Mist promises to plunge HELGA deep into the spotlight of mesmerising live performances following release. From the hills and forests of rural dwelling, this is a band destined for a future worth following.