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Hellspike - Dynasties of Decay

Dynasties of Decay
by Hutch at 30 December 2021, 8:46 PM

Reading the names of the members of Portuguese heavy metallers HELLSPIKE, it’s hard not to snigger. Skullthrasher? Sellpike and Rick Metal? Seriously guys? This ain't 1981 you know. Okay, step past the fact that these boys are living a metal dream which few people can genuinely enter, and consider the music. After all, that’s what we do. Formed a mere two years ago HELLSPIKE are genuinely locked in a period time has long passed. They have already released their debut album in 2020, entitled “Lords of War”. I don’t know that album so “Dynasties of Decay” is my first taste of the band.

First impressions? GRAND MAGUS on speed supplied by Lemmy Kilmister? The band’s gruff and rugged approach certainly ticks most boxes; the only challenge is staying with the album as it does follow a rather traditional heavy metal style. Full of muscular riffs and thunderous anthemic drumming, the have trio obviously followed the heavy metal template to the letter. Rooted in early NWOBHM, the tracks have a strange attraction as they rampage along. Melodies are prominent, the songs are rugged and macho with big sections that grab hold with a wildness that is supplemented by some searing solo work.

“Dynasties of Decay” brings little new to the table but what HELLSPIKE do throw in is solid musicianship and compositions that scream “METAL!!” at the top of their lungs. The thrash elements are unashamedly a composition of SODOM, DESTRUCTION and SLAYER. “Gone To Waste” for example, is a piledriving track that thrashes and bashes with aggressive intent, the three band members combining with an intent that simply explodes in a frenetic four-minute battery. And it may be that the thrash style is more suited to HELLSPIKE who plunder old school influences with abandon.

Unafraid to add depth to their song writing, the two seven-minute-long songs here both provide opportunity for expression. Whether Rick Metal’s vocals will be welcomed by all is another thing, for although I don’t object to them, they are incredibly Spinal Tap and roll out every cliché available. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, for tracks such as “Divide to Rule” and “They Live” follow in the path of many great metal bands. There is something missing – a spark to really ignite the fire that is smouldering, but which never quite erupts on the scale you want it to.

One listen to the instrumental “On Through the Times” is a clear demonstration of the musicianship that HELLSPIKE possess: it’s a fabulous piece of playing with some ferocious lead guitar work and it’s possible that this distinction is the challenge that I discovered. The band sound better when they are playing without vocals. And for them that may be one of the biggest issues that they face. But hell, grab your bullet belts and your leather jacket and get your head down to some perfectly acceptable thrashing heavy metal. Its glorious retro feel drags it screaming back into the pits of the 80s. And if that is where you like it, then this should be right up your street.

Song writing:  7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production:  7

3 Star Rating

1. Dynasties of Decay
2. They Live
3. Gone to Waste
4. Hegemony Defied
5. Divide to Rule
6. On Through the Times
7. Ruthless Invasion
8. Lost Reality
Rick Metal: Vocals/Bass
Sellpike: Guitars
Skullthrasher: Drums
Record Label: Metal on Metal Records


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