Fresh off the featured dark alt-rock of The Lost Poets, Portugal-based rockers Heylel produce a similar edge, but with an added emphasis of gothic metal and female-fronted vocals. The group formed in the fall of 2012 with an aim to recapture classic prog-rock, all while adding a heavily atmospheric originality that sounds, at times, like it would be a nice fit in fantasy worlds like Westeros. The unique sound is partly due to the different backgrounds of Heylel’s members. Between the four members, they have experience in blues bands, contemporary art, cinematic scoring, and – in vocalist Ana Baptista’s case – experience in classical and church choir instruction. Her vocals can be soft and angelic, but also intensely quivering.
A solid example of Heylel’s sound is “Watcher of the Light”, off upcoming album Nebulae, out June 30th. As is a prog-rock trademark, there are fluctuations between ballad-form minimalism and hard-rocking interludes, all while Baptista’s vocals adjust accordingly. The final minute-plus is capped off by mounting keys and sonorous guitar effects that will sound familiar to fans of Sigur Rós. It’s an exciting finale to a track full of twists and turns, which for the most part is quite successful. The full album stream for Nebulae is below if you’re ready to dig into Heylel’s unique world of dark prog-rock: