New Zealand’s Shepherds of Cassini are another of those bands that create great music but they do not get enough recognition for that. The unique mix of progressive rock, post-metal and spacey psychedelia is what this quartet from Auckland are known for since the release of their self-titled debut in 2013, and it’s something that they continue to do with their new release titled Helios Forsaken. The band obviously doesn’t give a damn about any stylistic limitations in their music, and although their tracks are rather lengthy it gives them enough time and space to make different experiments.
Since the beginning and the opening piece “Raijin” this album promises a lot, and it turns out not to be just an empty promise. From the introducing riff cannonade the energy of the tune grabs you and doesn’t let you until its last bit. A 45-second “Mirrors Have No Memory” is a vocal-only piece that brings forward powerful singing of Brendan Zwaan, who also handles guitar duties. Helios Forsaken continues its journey with the longest track “The Almagest” which brings phenomenal guitar parts developed around the main riff and oriental echo that rings throughout the song. Guitar work by Zwaan and Felix Lun’s violin make a huge difference here, but let’s not forget to mention exceptional work by the rhythm section comprised from Omar Al-Hashimi on drums and Vitesh Bava on bass. Another highlight in the series of highlights this album delivers—this tune includes all strong points. The song, and it could be said for the album in whole, changes the pace and the moods very smoothly.
“Mauerfall” comes with more dark and ambient approach structured around post-metal. It takes over two and a half minutes to get into a full electric mode, but changes in the tempo are minimal. The second half of the song brings a structural change with another oriental passage transmitted by Reyahn Leng’s darbuka mostly. In the same mood, the band continues with the following “Pleiades’ Plea,” in which Lun does a bit of soloing over the series of stoner/doom riffs. Finally, the title song closes Helios Forsaken in a big style; it features everything that Shepherds of Cassini stand for in 2015.
In these six songs Shepherds of Cassini present all its skills, and there are so many of them. These four guys create music in its most complex and most enjoyable form. With “Helios Forsaken” they offer a tremendous work that takes you in their world, and once you are there you will not want to get out.