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Hateflames - Tomorrow Erased Award winner

Hateflames
Tomorrow Erased
by Max Elias at 10 May 2019, 11:24 PM

HATEFLAMES serve up power/thrash through a modern lens. Like a lot of the best power/thrash, melodic consciousness is emphasized throughout, to the point where the album sometimes crosses into ‘epic’ territory—for example, the intro on “Hateflame”, building up from clean guitars to thumping drums and spacious chord chugs. On the thrash side of things, the riffs are very old-school speed metal, and the vocals are like a somewhat toned-down James Rivera (from HELSTAR, in case anyone’s unfamiliar)—between a soar and a warble. Also like a lot of power/thrash, this is decidedly upbeat despite the speed of it. The title track also breaks for a clean interlude over which a calm, soulful lead erupts into the unfettered abandon of classic 80s metal. When I saw there was a song here called “Strike of the Beast” I thought I was about to hear an EXODUS cover, but although equally bombastic, this is a very different song. From the beginning, a stomping pedal-tone riff sets the furious pace, and the gang-chant chorus enhances its urgency. Would it really be power/thrash if there wasn’t some sort of melodic interlude? Maybe, but either way, there’s one here (after a hair raising ‘strike of the beast’ shriek), that serves once again as a bridge before a truly majestic display of neoclassical bombast. The pedal-tones finish off the song in the same rousing fashion it began.

There are some fairly long tracks on here (seeing as how it’s an 8-song album that’s almost an hour long); “Children of the Crucifix” is the first. Unquestionably a power ballad, this is what I meant before when I said the band enjoys indulging the melodic potential of the genre. Power ballads rely on the vocalist, who in this case comes through with a voice that is high enough to be audible, but not jarringly falsetto. Too many power metal vocalists believe they can be Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson and come out worse for it, but not this guy. Another staple of the power ballad: the solo, which does not disappoint. Actually, shredding, gleeful guitar work seems to be a staple of this entire album. “Fragments of the Machine” takes the gentle note the last song ended on and replaces it with thundering NWOBHM-inspired pounding. I’m not sure how to describe it, but the vocals sound different on this song. You can tell it’s the same guy, but he seems more present somehow. If the riffing and atmosphere are steeped in 80s speed metal, the lead work shows that this is 2019 and not 1982; the bar now seems higher in terms of fretboard insanity for metal in general.

Another longer track, “Warbringer of Neon God’” (even if I’m not sure what it means), stands out as one of the clearer examples of thrash on the album; even though it’s over 8 minutes long it never stops pummeling. The galloping double bass aligns this song with speed and proto-thrash acts like ANVIL; even though it is undeniably a straight-ahead piledriver, the more melodic chorus doesn’t come off as out of place. What is unexpected is the 180 turn from thrasher to clean ballad for the last minute and a half of the song—that feels superfluous, especially with no real transition getting us there. It sounds like it was meant to lead listeners into “Stranger in the Dark” which as the longest song here is defined by mournful arpeggiated passages for much of it. The strident heavy guitars kicking in after a few minutes don’t last long before angelic dancing lead work takes us back into balladry. “Stranger in the Dark” ends powerfully with not one, but two technique-laden bursts of shred carrying the listener to aural Valhalla.

The highest this vocalist ever goes is on “War of Angels” which again starts very serene, before strident gallops and shrieks of anguish tear into the listener. Even the more aggressive moments of the song (and album as a whole) fall more on the ‘power’ than the ‘thrash’ side of things, both because of the midtempo stomp and the jubilant tinge the music has to it. It isn’t dark enough to be called thrash. Lastly, the album closes with an instrumental, fiery and epic.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Hateflame
2. Strike of the Beast
3. Children of the Crucifix
4. Fragments of the Machine
5. Warbringer of Neon God
6. Stranger in the Dark
7. War of Angels
8. There’s No Tomorrow
Lineup:
Mike Dervos - Guitars/backing vocals
Charis Xouras - Drums
Giorgos Gritshs - Bass
Panos Paraskevas - Guitars/backing vocals
Evangelos Papaikos - Lead vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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