Band: Red Helen (feat. Simz Kulla)
Country: South Africa / United States
Song Title: Become the Wind
Genre: Progressive Metalcore
Release Date: 29 October 2021
Vocals – Brandon Pratt
Guest Vocals – Simz Kulla
Guitar & Vocals – Erick Gerber
Bass & Vocals – Greg Van Kerkhof
Drums – Matt Sletcher
One of the positive aspects of the pandemic is that there have been a steady trickle of new music from bands over the past two years. Fortunately the same seems to be true locally, as Red Helen, the progressive metalcore outfit from Johannesburg, released their new single, Become the Wind, last Friday. This single marks the first music by the band in 4 years since the release of their debut album ,Trading past for Pathways, in 2017.
The release on streaming platforms is also accompanied by a music video directed by Pieter du Plessis and follows a gritty, minimalist aesthetic that fits the tone of the song perfectly. The production team should really be commended on the high quality of the music video, as it is definitely on the same level as some international releases I’ve seen recently.
As to the single itself, fans of the band’s previous output will not be disappointed, as all the progressive metalcore elements remain intact after 4 years. However, versus the material on their debut album, the song definitely has a darker tone and lacks the upbeat elements found on the band’s previous output. This has been confirmed by the bassist, Greg van Kerkhof, who stated: “This song is an exercise in catharsis. We’ve lost a lot of good friends to mental illness. We want to let people know that they aren’t alone, while honoring those who didn’t make it. We’ve poured in our darkest emotions and come out the other end with our heaviest song yet.”. The more aggressive and darker tone expressed does fit the band better in my estimation.
Interestingly, the band accentuates this darker and aggressive tone even more with the introduction of guest vocals by Afro Soul singer Simz Kulla. This adds that extra variety to the song which they wouldn’t have been able to achieve with Brandon Pratt’s clean vocals alone.
The band is tighter in terms of their performance versus their previous output, which bodes well for the future content that the band promised on social media in the run-up to the release. Production-wise I couldn’t hear anything offensive, and the team at Audio Militia produced a high-quality recording.
Thus-far, the relocation of their vocalist, Brandon Pratt, to the United States doesn’t seem to have disrupted the band significantly in terms of the quality of their output, as Red Helen has released a high-quality single which sets expectations high for future releases.
To stay up to date with everything Red Helen,
Rating – 8/10
Reviewed by Leon du Preez