(NCS writer Israel Flanders brings us another of his recent discoveries, this time a thrashtastic band from the UK.)
Go ahead, I dare you. Tell me you didn’t enjoy that.
Time to dig a little bit into my old-school sensibilities. Sometimes modern metal just doesn’t bring what you want to the table, doesn’t fit your mood, whatever. The point is, Hellfighter are solid power-thrash who bring a refreshing sense of old school. The band is comprised of four members of legendary Brit thrashers Xentrix — guitarist Kristian Harvard, drummer Dennis Gasser, vocalist Simon Gordon, and bassist Mel Gasser — accompanied by the only non-ex-Xentrix member, guitarist Pete Smith.
Let’s get something straight here: Hellfighter kicks ass, and their debut album Damnation’s Wings will kick yours to the curb if you don’t have the metal flowing through your veins to embrace the power that these guys generate. This music has serious balls, serious epic factor, and solid, impenetrably polished song-writing that provide a total package worth checking out. (more after the jump . . .)
The power-metal aspect of Hellfighter’s sound lies mostly in Simon Gordon’s powerful voice. He sings his lines with utter conviction, hitting soaring notes with a really keen ear for vocal melodies. Beyond that, Hellfighter play a VERY ballsy, very no-bullshit style of thrash with some slight tinges of modern melodic ideas. I would dare say there is a HUGE vibe of Dead Or Dreaming-era Into Eternity on this album (something I dig very much).
This band knows how to throw down the grooves, too, however, as demonstrated by songs like the opening track “Tower Of Sin”, with its traditional heavy-metal feel, or songs like the energetic, fierce “Revolution Within”. The riffs are just tasty in that classic sense — drop-tuned guitars playing beefy, solid, and to-the-point riffage that hits right where it needs to, as hard as it needs to.
The band’s knack for compelling composition is also noteworthy, as evidenced by a song like “A Lesser God”, with its clean intro, the incoming thrash assault that totally shifts gears, and then another changing of gears in the last two minutes to an epic, melodic outro section. This song also includes probably my favorite verse, and chorus, on the album.
Some of the best moments on the album come when Kristian Harvard and Pete Smith break into harmony sections that are just really cool — they know how to play off each other when it’s time for the guitars to branch out.
The production fits this album very well, too. It’s full, beefy, devoid of any weakness, and there’s also a very full bass to the sound, which is always welcome for me. I found the mix to be very even, in that nothing gets lost in the action going on here. In other words, this is a very solid sounding record, not just a solidly written one.
Overall this is an excellent effort. I’d give it a firm 8.5/10. Get this album for yourself, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I liked the first song. The vocals were a tad strained for me (like he was trying to sing a half an octave too high for his voice), but the music was pretty awesome. At some points, the vocalist broke through the straining and really nailed it. Also, he looked vaguely like Johnny Rotten, so I feel compelled to approve.
They reminded me of Dream Evil, who is a band I absolutely adore, so they’re not on bad footing by any means.
Glad that you like it. I do understand the point about Simon Gordon’s vocals. I’m not sure if it’s age catching up with him (he sounded great in Xentrix) or what but there is a vibe of him straining himself. I still like his voice though and don’t think any other guy would’ve fit.
He’s definitely a good vocalist…but that straining is something that really bugs me. Not only for this band. Perhaps you’ve heard of X Japan? They’re super popular in Japan (obviously), but I can’t fucking stand them because their vocalist always sounds like he’s straining so much.
Always known OF X Japan but I never listened to them.
Well, they are pretty thrashy and speed metally. So, there’s a good chance you might like them.
They’re music is pretty good, I guess. I’m not really a thrash or speed metal fan, so I’m not the best person to judge. Their drummer is also a classically trained pianist. So think that helps give them musical cred.
I can’t think of any songs to recommend, but they do tend to be kinda melodramatic (lots of ballads).
Just saw this press release: “‘Jade’, the long-awaited new single from X JAPAN, one of the most influential rock bands in Japanese history, will be released in North America, Europe and Latin America on Tuesday, June 28 in all digital formats. ‘Jade’ is the first track from the band’s English debut album, currently in the final stages of recording.” There’s a sample of the song streaming here:
Well, that was just…yep. Still hate the fucking singer.
Waitaminnit… is this the same Xentrix (but under a new name) that covered the Ghostbusters theme?
I believe so.
I like the song a lot, but I agree with the above comment that the vocals seem slightly strained. Nonetheless, he sounds good, and the riffage and overall instrumentation are top-notch. All the songs you’ve included here are epic. \m/ I will definitely look into these guys further, because they do have that old-school thrash feeling that really hits the spot.
At very beginning, I meant for “song” to be plural.