Helvetets Port is a relatively new band from Sweden. Along with such acts as Portrait or In Solitude they fly the flag for traditional Heavy Metal in their home country. The actual history of the band goes back to 2000/01. Tomas, alias Wicthfinder, had just formed a group together with his mate Erik Sjödin. That was when he still lived in his hometown Skellefteå. The name of the band was Brute Force and Helvetets Port still play a couple of old Brute Force compositions today. There is also a strong connection between Helvetets Port and Portrait, as drummer Oscar (aka O. Thunder) explains: "After Christian Lindell (guitar) had left Helvetets Port in 2003, he went on to form Portrait. And Philip, our current bass player, was the singer in Portrait up until just recently." Helvetets Port is bascially a Gothenburg band, with Tomas, Oscar and Kongo all living there and only Philip being based elsewhere (namely Kristianstad). According to Oscar, the current Swedish HM scene is very small but also very active: "All over Sweden it's mainly an everyone knows everyone thing and we have a good amount of eager-hearted people arranging concerts, playing in bands, writing zines etc. A good thing for an underground scene, I think. The fan base has grown a lot; five or six years ago there were virtually no 'obscure 80s metallers' around. The bands that exist now have kind of their own niche in music and if there's any competition, then it's a healthy one. Although, people tend to put a label on all 'new' bands that play some form of Metal that is sounding rather traditional, as being 'true 80s Heavy Metal' and we don't think that's the case most of the time. Most bands have something that sets them apart from the pure heavy metal style of Witchkiller, Grim Reaper etc. We're not saying it's a bad thing, but to us there aren't many Heavy Metal bands here. But since most of the members of these bands have the same influences and listen to the same bands, there's naturally understanding and cameraderie." The four members of Helvetets Port are dedicated headbangers themselves and you might have seen them at festivals like Keep It True or Headbangers Open Air: "Yes, we all try to attend those Heavy Metal events but missed a few the last year or two. To play live must be a priority goal for every band. If we ever get the opportunity to actually play on stage at one of those festivals, this wil be a dream come true."
The first two real live gigs Helvetets Port ever played were in their hometown of Gothenburg, followed by a concert in Uppsala. "That's correct", states Oscar. "But our very first gig was a very small one in Arvika, which was planned just a couple of days beforehand. The best gig so far was the one in Gothenburg, we were a more rehearsed band at that time and the crowd was perfect. We're back in the rehearsal room now and have more rehearsing time than ever before, our next gig will be a stormer." The band also played the "Headbangers Against Disco 4" in Berlin in December 2007 but Oscar does not think they were that good on the day: "It was a nice try, but not very many people showed up at the club. Our performance was sub-standard, to say the least. We hadn't had time to rehearse very much. It was a so-so experience, but it would be nice to play in Germany again."
With "Exodus to Hell" High Roller Records is proud to release the first ever Helvetets Port longplayer, of which Oscar has the following to say: "Roughly you could say that five songs are midtempo and five are uptempo. Two are sung in Swedish, six in English and two mixed. Half of the songs are as old as, or even older than the "Metal Strike" 7", but now recorded for the first time. The songwriting is pretty much like the 7", a little quirkier sometimes. And the recordings are heavier and have much better production." Before "Exodus to Hell" Helvetets Port had two other releases, the "Metal Strike" CD-R from 2004 and the mentioned "Metal Strike" single from 2007 on Iron Bonehead. Oscar speaks: "The CD-R demo was never printed in any way, we made a few ones for friends around that time but most of them were destroyed during a festival because of our own negligence and the rainy weather that year. So if people are looking for that CD-R, they might as well start looking for ghosts or UFO's. The 7" was recorded in 2005 but not released until 2007, it was a limited edition of 500 copies and sold out fast."
That Helvetets Port are Metal fans through and through shows the respect they have for old bands from their own country. They even contacted some of them personally: "We've hung around with bands like Torch, Axewitch, Overdrive and Tryckvåg at concerts, and played live together with Torch in France by the way. We've also had, and have, internet contact with bands like Zone Zero, Hydra, Heavy Load, Lezlie Paice, Wizzard, Parasite, Rubycon and so on. The most talk has been with Zone Zero and Hydra (a band that only appeared with one song on one compilation album but who might reform soon)."
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)