Valley metal band Hellen has always been an anomaly. In a genre dominated by men, Hellen founders (and sisters) Mindy and Desiree DuPonte raged as gutturally and viciously as any testosterone-filled metal band. With Desiree on guitar and Mindy on drums, the pair shared vocal duties (brutal grunts and operatic singing) and played for years as a duo. They opened for national acts like Kittie and Otep, and were praised by peers like Lacuna Coil for their unique sound and dedication to heavy metal.
After Desiree's sudden death in April, 2007, Mindy took a break from music, but ultimately decided to carry on Hellen with new band members. After hooking up with guitarist Ryan Abel and bassist Andrew Heath, Mindy took the band to Toxic Recording Studios in Chandler to do the one thing Hellen hadn't done before Desiree died: record an album.
That album, the self-produced and self-released Sorry for Screaming, highlights Hellen's strengths: tricky timing changes and illustrious drum fills, gritty and rich guitars, and vocals that run the register from high-pitched screaming to deep Cookie Monster-like growls.
Check out the MP3 for "Pony" after the jump, and read what Mindy DuPonte has to say about the song.
Hellen singer and drummer Mindy DuPonte on "Pony": "Desiree and I wrote the song together, but this was the only song I ever wrote any guitar to. My sister had the main riff - a weird, vampy kind of riff. I had a guitar part I didn't know what to do with, so we worked it into the part that sounds like the guitar solo. The funny thing was, when I auditioned guitar players at the house, nobody could play [Desiree's guitar riff on] 'Pony.' And my sister wasn't a classically trained musician, but it showed how unique that riff is. That song's always really special to play live. It was cool to record it right and not have it be a demo or conservatory recording."
Hellen is scheduled to perform with Forbidden, White Wizzard, and Havok Friday, July 1, at The Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe.
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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.