Hellsingland Underground has come a long way from the breezy, southern rock epic anthems they used to base their sound around. Upon listening to the first moments of the new single ‘Carnival Beyond the Hills’ from their new album, A Hundred Years is Nothing, it’s clear to see some things have changed since those earlier days.

By all accounts, the band has not had an easy time over the years, and with this struggle, changes have come. Gone have the long, winding guitar parts which cut through their earlier work with such fluid ease. They have been replaced here with lighter, sometimes poppier tones deeply embedded in a largely atmospheric production. Existing fans should welcome the development. The change is both stark and refreshing.

Hellsingland Underground has always written anthemic music, songs which build sometimes deeper, sometimes bigger. And that is something that is still retained in the new record. But while it certainly worked for them before, the musical direction on this album makes it seem less of a struggle, and something far more natural. Dropping reliance on the tired, overdone southern rock sound has seemingly opened them up to a far more contemporary and creative space.

Songs such as ‘Strangelands’ and ‘Rainbow’s Gold’ are light, atmospheric ballads which seem to be exploring the width and depth of their songwriting capabilities. ‘Criminal Summer’, is a piano-based epic (the piano is often dominant on the album) which makes use of atmosphere as the tempo shifts, taking a song that is perhaps reminiscent of Supertramp, but making it wholly contemporary to today’s sounds. Other highlights include ‘I Win You Lose, I Guess’ with its catchy chorus, and the country-esque ‘Pig Farm’.

Sometimes they dip back into their bluesy roots, and it works brilliantly on ‘The Blessing and the Curse’. ‘Elephant’ too, takes the sound back to previous releases. But these are welcome additions to a refreshingly varied release. It’s a record that’s not afraid to experiment, that flirts with one sound after another. It’s certainly a complete record and one that sounds free from earlier constraints of style.

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Author: Craggy Collyde