Hellbringer is a new Australian thrash metal band formed in Canberra in 2007. Formerly known as Forgery, they changed their name to Hellbringer in 2010 because of a then popular Norwegian band by the same name.
The guys certainly wear their influences unashamedly with aspects of Venom and early Slayer coming through in droves, they also really remind me of Coroner without the complexity or in places early Death Angel or Flotsam and Jetsam. Unfortunately their debut album is pretty formulaic thrash, especially in the song content, the likes of which Slayer were singing about nearly thirty years ago. Granted, Hellbringer make no excuses about this, as they have said their lyrical content is written to suit the music. It’s all so very old school though, almost like they’ve been stuck in a time warp.
This album would not have looked out of place in the 80s when thrash was kicking its way into the minds of metalheads during the rise of the Bay Area giants, but in 2012 it feels very much stuck back in the old days. When you consider the quality of albums we’ve seen from the likes of Slayer, Testament, Overkill, Onslaught and the like in recent times you’re expecting bigger and better things that what Hellbringer are producing here.
Ok, you may say I’m being unfair and not comparing apples with apples here. The big hitters have far bigger budgets and experience to write and record their albums, but to be honest if you’re wanting to make an impact these days then this is the kind of quality you have to be aspiring to rather than looking to albums of twenty to thirty years ago to pull influence from.
Is there still a market for this kind of thrash dripping in old-school vibe? I don’t know. The biggest problem I have with this album is I could go straight to my music collection and pull out Reign in Blood and it would still sound fresher than this. The production of the album sounds like it was recorded in a garage and there appears to be too much reverb or delay throughout. Some may say this is the way thrash should be, a homebrew, a rough and ready attack of metal but it sounds like I’m listening to the tracks on vinyl rather than digitally.
Hellbringer CAN sling a thrash track or two together. They have the roots of some great ideas but it all comes across like kids in their first band jamming together. The title track starts off promisingly and full of atmosphere before it comes in with some fairly uninspiring riffage while Sermon of Death and Deceiver’s Chamber hint at a ferocity that is perhaps as yet not fully realised. Necromancer’s Return is probably my favourite track on the album as it has a great charging momentum to it that would likely produce a great pit but it’s still pretty simplistic in its approach. And that’s the story of this album in a nutshell. There’s moments of greatness (like the slow melody breakdown section in Satanic Destructor) but they get swallowed and lost in the mediocrity and similarity of songs. It all becomes too one dimensional and clichéd sadly. Not even a rousing final track in Demon’s Blood can rescue the album.
I hate beating down on a band, I know the feeling having been in one or two of them during my time and gotten my fair share of negative feedback. There’s nothing worse than something you’ve put your heart into being ripped apart, but sometimes it’s good to hear the negativity and learn from it. I’ll be interested to see just what Hellbringer can do with their follow up album and if they can produce something with a little bit more style and substance next time.
Dominion of Darkness will be available through High Roller Records from 28th September
1. Dominion of Darkness
2. Sermon of Death
3. Deceiver’s Chamber
4. Necromancer’s Return
5. Bell of the Antichrist
6. Satanic Destructor
8. The Rites of Evil
9. Demon’s Blood
Bass/Lead Vocals – Luke Bennett
Guitar/Backing Vocals – James Lewis
Drums – Josh Bennett