Helena Aleksandre – Angels Don’t Sleep


Angels Don’t Sleep is the debut album by Helena Aleksandre, whose prog-folk-hard rock echoes All About Eve and their goth-folk ilk. The production is light, almost demo-ish, but the clarity and brightness of the vocals saves it from sounding too fuzzy.

They sound Eastern European (glances at notes) – ah, Russian. All women. The producer is Alex Gorshkov, guitarist of death metal band Barbarity, and the guitars are the focus of the mix. They swoop and soar and wheedle and wail. They crunch and howl and twirl and dive and growl. Vera Moore’s emotive vocals are almost an afterthought.

‘Tell Me For What’ is about nine-tenths guitar solo, and while the stop-starts earn it the prog tag, the fretwork is straightforward peak Mission. ‘Point of Collision’, threatens to build to a peak it never quite reaches. The dizzying hops between time signatures bewilder rather than satisfy, and the narrow range of tones of the melody make for a sludgy, choppy dirge where it should be a wild flight of fancy. ‘Polar Night’ recovers, as an evocative chilly meander through a sub-zero soundscape – icy pad sounds and acoustic guitar forming sonic icicles – timely, given the season.

‘You Can Find a Way’ is Kate Bush with an arctic twist – it continues the use, throughout this release, of capturing the squeep of fingers moving between frets, which is one of music’s most satisfying sounds. ‘Ангелы не спят (Angels Don’t Sleep)’, rounds out the album with a twinkling avalanche. The press release explains, “Angels really do not sleep in our difficult moments of life and they have souls who want us to be happy every day. But often no one hears them.” It still sounds like Heart after listening to a Gong album on a trip to the North Pole.

Helena Aleksandre might have landed more comfortably in 1989, when this combination of rousing, earnest vocals and clean-sounding guitar solos were most in demand. In this most befuddling of times, it is a timeless and reassuring sound, but aiming at heights it can’t currently reach. A bigger production budget and more experience will go a long way to achieving those aims, but in the meantime, it’s unquestionably pleasant.

JW


Verdict


Release Date: 24/11/2020

Record Label: Sliptrick Records

Standout tracks: I Killed My Fear, You Can Find a Way, Polar Night

Suggested Further Listening: All About Eve – Scarlet and Other Stories (1989), The Mission – Carved in Sand (1990), Abba – Abba: The Album (1978)