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Hellraizerr – Life After Death

Hellraizerr
Life After Death
by Max Elias at 01 January 2021, 3:50 PM

The ominous intro to “Summoning of Demons”, first song on HELLRAIZERR’s debut, is a bit reminiscent of a cross between “Hallowed be Thy Name” and “Dead Skin Mask”; the bells are there but they are used in a much more evil-sounding way. The vocals are deeper than one would expect from such a combination, however. It sounds like Sal Hellraizerr wanted to see how gravelly he could make his voice without actually growling.

The band’s retro-feeling SPEED METAL style solidifies as the album goes on; on tracks like “Realm of Madness” the chugging guitar and straight drumming are pulled straight from the 80s. Much of the album seems to be horror-themed judging from titles like “Slasher Within”, “Collector of Souls”, and “Violent Creation”. The call-and-response between vocals and guitar is reminiscent of early thrash bands like ANTHRAX and EXODUS. This is a very angry-sounding, blistering record that hammers the listener hard every chance it gets. But there are still hints of melodies interwoven with the frenzy, as on “Collector of Souls”. The lead break that ends the song is also strikingly melodic and devoid of flash or shred. And the band continues combining their relentless chugging riffs with sonorous leads on “Hordes of Decay”.

The first few songs are all standard-issue SPEED METAL, and the first big surprise of the album comes when you get to “Hellbound”. First of all, it’s a ballad. But even more shockingly, it’s a synth ballad, and an instrumental! The lush and ethereal arpeggios we’re all so used to from countless power ballads of years past are replicated on synth, which while a little jarring tonally gives “Hellbound” even more of an ethereal, as well as somewhat of a futuristic, atmosphere. It’s a welcome break from the action of the rest of the record, and a well-composed song that feels like it could be on an album of most any popular genre, but is still at home in this one.

I continue to be impressed by how the band holds itself back in a sense when it comes to shredding; everything about the leads serves the music under it as opposed to the other way around. Even higher-octane moments like the tapping on “Vengeance Rising” is controlled and painstakingly intentional. Unfortunately the leads are only a small majority of the music on the album; the rest of what makes up the songs here is good, but it’s somewhat of a monolith with the exception of “Hellbound”, and despite that fact that none of them are ever longer than they should be—which I appreciate as that is not always the case—11 or 12 of such similar music all meshes together eventually. One of my favorite songs of the album is “Wasteland Babylon”, because it’s different (and also because guitars are fun). It’s a very short (a little over 2 minutes long) song dominated by soloing, with vocals in between.

To sum up, I do like the album, and I suspect I’ll like future albums from HELLRAIZERR as well, but I wouldn’t listen to the entire thing back-to-back regularly. The lack of rhythmic variation in the riffing and the unchanging vocal lines make that unnecessary—it feels like there are only minor differences between songs. I think it says a lot that my favorite moments are those of lead guitar dominance, because those are when you’re not focusing on the fact that you’ve heard all these riffs already. The best song on the album in my opinion is “Relentless Death” because it bucks most of the traditions I just mentioned—the main riff is more than a galloping chordal stomp, and melodies flit between verses and choruses instead of just during leads. They even fit in a short harmonized section that builds to the main solo. HELLRAIZERR made a solid collection of aggressive, speedy metal now all they need to do is throw a few new tricks in there.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Musicianship: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. Summoning of Demons
  2. Realm of Madness
  3. Violent Creation
  4. Collector of Souls
  5. Hordes of Decay
  6. Hellbound
  7. Slasher Within
  8. Vengeance Rising
  9. Vicious Assault
  10. Wasteland Babylon
  11. Seeing Red
  12. Land of Ancient Evil
  13. Relentless Death
Lineup:
Sal Hellraizerr – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Synths
Adam Axe – Guitars
Chris Hellking – Drums
Jason Bacajol – Synths
Record Label: Reaper Metal Productions
     


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