Hellveterra by Zer0 れい – review by Jeff Arias After appearing on the scene a year or so ago with a series of releases on weblabels like Sunset Grid and PowerLunch, Belgium’s most ambitious vaporwave artist, Zer0 れい has made the leap to a full-fledged pro release, mastere by Telepath and available on black and even purple vinyl.
How does it sound? The artist speaks of Dungeon Synth and Black Metal genres fused with ambient, but Hellveterra would have been right at home during 2014-2015 as a “Vapour” album. And a standout one! Bleak, sample-free ambient soundscapes evoke images ranging from medieval to industrial melt together into a series of ominous tracks that suck you in with hypnotic, shifting grooves and unexpected, dreamlike melodic swerves.
Synths and guitar riffs maintain a rumbling bottom, while reverb-smeared snares culled from vintage videogame soundsets take centerstage: You never forget you are listening to vaporwave!
This album has a rare kind of musicality that should make it hold up to repeated listenings: there’s a lot to uncover in its deep layers. There’s no question if this is the best album of Zer0 れい.
It might even be the best album so far from Hiraeth!
Additional Information From The Artist
Artist: Zer0 れい (Zero Trashwave)
- Title: Hellveterra
- Genre: post-mallsoft, dungeon synth
- Released on: vinyl, cassette and digital
- Catalogue Number: HR003
- Music and mixed by: Sebastien Dessauvage
- Mastered by: t e l e p a t h
Hellveterra is the latest brainchild of Belgian producer Zer0 れい and his second vinyl release to date. Taking a sharp thematic and sonic departure from early 2019’s “ブラックマジック (Black Magic)”, which had heavy oriental themes and a more cinematic approach, Zer0 れい now sinks his teeth into the controversial legacy of the Dungeon Synth genre.
The album combines heavy swathes of Dark Ambient with a playful yet respectful take on Black Metal riffage that eschews guitars in favor of wobbly, gritty and sometimes playful synth chords. Underneath these dungeonous riffs there swirls a myriad of new-age inspired pads, panflutes and chiptune-esque accents.
Taking mixing cues from lo-fi Symphonic Black metal albums such as the early works of Summoning, the album rounds out with cavernous layered drums to borrow and steal from both classic electronic drum machines, ethereal percussion and the grittiest of 32-bit era retrogames.
Legendary producer t e l e p a t h took up the challenge of mastering this unholy marriage and managed to polish all this up to a mirror sheen.
“What happens when Palm Mall is deserted and the AI system takes over? What happens if the pools dry up, swords are broken and Earth is no longer our home? Welcome to Hellveterra, welcome to a new world where machines crush dreams.”
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