Released: 2006, Lovely Records
Generally speaking, if you're a band from Gothenburg and you have a name like Hellsongs, you probably play melodic death metal. "Probably" is the operative word here. Founded in 2004, Hellsongs is a three-piece folk/lounge music group who perform cover versions of classic metal and hard rock anthems in their own style. Non-metal groups covering metal songs isn't anything new, certainly - the market is glutted with string quartet and piano 'tributes' to some of the more popular bands and acts like Hayseed Dixie (yes, it's an awful pun) are well-known for playing rock/metal tunes in alternate styles - but this is something entirely different, for these are not so much cover tunes as they are complete reworkings of the original pieces. As you might guess, the results are more than a bit bizarre.
Primary singer Harriet Ohlsson croons her way through the twenty-four minute EP in a sweet, slightly off-kilter timbre at times vaguely reminiscent of Emiliana Torrini or Björk, her vocals wafting over an ethereal-sounding folky / jazzy pop background which features only an occasional hint of the original music such as an acoustic guitar rendition of the well-known riff from Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law." Hammond organ, cello, upright bass, and even banjo lines work their way into the songs but there's not a distorted guitar nor drum line to be found. While the lighter originals like Van Halen's "Jump" translate fairly easily, it is the versions of songs oriented on the subjects of death, war, revenge, and corruption like Metallica's "Seek And Destroy," Iron Maiden's "Run To The Hills," and especially Motörhead's "Orgasmatron" which catch the listener off-guard by the odd juxtaposition of lilting melody, soft singing, and violent lyrics. There's just something inherently disturbing about someone calmly singing a line like "your bones will build my palaces, your eyes will stud my crown."
It's fairly obvious this isn't just a throwaway effort, for the music is very well-crafted, but it's equally obvious the group doesn't take itself too seriously. The biggest problem I see with LOUNGE is the fact while it's a pretty unique concept and good for a laugh, it's not something I'd want to listen to on a regular basis, nor is it something I'd recommend to the majority of metal fans as anything more than a novelty release. If you happen to like folk-pop music in addition to metal and always wondered what the two would sound like blended together, by all means give Hellsongs a try. Otherwise, I would recommend you skip it.