Meet the Band: Helsreach

Helsreach is a Hardcore Metal band out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The band released their debut album, Helsreach, in September 2022 which consists of 11 tracks. Since then they have played numerous shows across the Maritimes and are currently working on their next EP.

We had the opportunity to chat with the band to learn more about its members, creative process, and interests!

helsreach jtlavoie
Iain Wilson, lead singer of Helsreach. Photo credits: @jtlavoie

What artists, movies, books, anything; inspires the band and members to make music?

Warhammer 40k! For anyone unfamiliar, Warhammer 40k is a tabletop wargame played with dice and plastic miniatures. It’s been around since the late 1980s and has an extensive universe built around the game with a seemingly never-ending supply of lore and stories to draw inspiration from. Our first album is a concept album based closely on the 40k novel Helsreach (and is also where we got our name). I pitched it to the guys, and they thought it was a cool way to build an aesthetic for the band, and also a good way to get more eyes and ears on the band as there is already a fair amount of cross-over between Warhammer and extreme music. The universe in the lore is bleak, violent, and absurd. So, as a metal band, it made a lot of sense to draw on the lore for lyrics and art inspiration. As far as I know, the UK band Bolt Thrower was the first metal band to use the Warhammer 40k universe as a backdrop for their music back in 1988, so the idea is nothing new.

Your favourite bands, artists, or musicians?

As a band, we have a pretty diverse set of tastes, but our main influences are Behemoth, Sylosis, Judiciary, Power Trip, Merauder, and Metallica. They’re all bands that we share a love for.

For those who don’t know your band, how would you describe your music?

We’re definitely under the umbrella of metal, but we incorporate elements of modern hardcore as well. We try to be innovative, while still maintaining a healthy respect for the originators of the genre. The backbone of our songs are heavy, catchy riffs, and we make sure to include at least one or two mosh parts to keep the crowd engaged. Shreddy solos are also a big part of our sound. Our songs are generally pretty aggressive, driving, and loud, with some darker atmospheric elements here and there for contrast.

How has your musical taste changed from when you first started playing to your latest release?

Personally, I’ve definitely gone deeper into heavy music, which I think is a pretty classic trajectory for anyone who gets into metal or hardcore-adjacent music. I started out listening to Green Day, Billy Talent, blink-182 and other bands like that, and eventually was introduced to metalcore and hardcore by my older sister, and I haven’t really looked back.

What is your creative process for new songs?

The process is pretty “step-by-step.” Our guitar players usually write the majority of the instrumental parts of the songs and bring them to the rest of the band for input. Our drummer will sit down with the tracks and make the drums make sense and add his own flavour to the parts. Once the instruments are done, I’ll write the lyrics to the songs. I know some vocalists tend to have lyrics written and try to fit the words to the music, but I like to write lyrics “with” the song, if that makes sense. I usually have a concept for how a release will be structured in terms of the story I want to tell, but the lyrics are written after I’ve heard the songs.

What is your favourite venue to perform at and what is your most memorable moment during a show?

Xeroz in Moncton, New Brunswick! It’s an arcade bar in downtown Moncton with some really cool 80s and 90s arcade games and a great overall vibe. The performance space sounds great, you always know you’re going to have a good time any time you play there. The staff are awesome, and it’s a very progressive and welcoming space, which we really value. As far as a memorable moment for the band, we’ve played with a band from Montreal called Prowl a couple of times and those shows were really special. We’ve looked up to them for a long time.

What other band, artist, or group would you love to collaborate with?

We’ve become friends with a band out of Quebec City called Apes, and we would really love to have their vocalist Alex Goulet feature on a song. Another one would be with a band from Halifax called Targeted Individual. Their vocalist Nick Jones is a great friend of ours, and we want to get him on a track for sure.

Are you familiar with other bands in the area? If so, which are your favourites?

We’re very lucky to share the Maritimes heavy scene with a ton of awesome bands. Some of our favourites (in no particular order) are Pale Ache, Targeted Individual, Fear and Filth, Thousand Knives, Breakneck, Necrohol, Ibex, Cold Lung, Johnny Deathwish, Botfly, Baited, Knull, and Ritual Warfare. There’s also a lot of sick bands that are playing not heavy music that we love, like Book Buddies, Loveover, All Honesty, Conductor, and Customer Service.

What is your favourite song you have made and why?

Probably Arrival or We Will Be Buried Here. I think those two songs do a good job of encapsulating all of the elements that we want to bring together in our songs – interesting riffs, big breakdowns, atmospheric parts, and some cool vocal passages.

Where can people find your music and do you have any shows or new releases coming up?

Our music is available on all the usual streaming platforms: Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music, and pretty much anywhere else you can stream music. We also have all of our releases up on BandCamp for download. We have a pretty busy year coming up for shows, but we haven’t announced them yet so we can’t say much more than that. Keep an eye on our socials for the announcements coming in the next few weeks. As far as releases go, we have an EP in the works that should be dropping sometime later this year.

Check out Helsreach on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date and be the first to hear about their upcoming shows!

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