There’s an old – and very much overused (as these things tend to be) – saying about how you should never judge a book by it’s cover… in terms of reviewing heavy metal albums, it is perhaps fair to adapt this ancient adage to CDs and their artwork…
On first glance at this debut from Geordies Hellion Rising, the immediate impression given is one of a band operating at the pagan/black metal end of the metallic spectrum: the artwork is all pentagrams and other assorted symbolry, runes and dark equations (all reproduced, almost indeciperably, in dark purple print on a black background), mixed with song titles that automatically evoke the darker side and suggest a band walking the left hand path… And, then, you stick the damn thing in ye olde death deck – and find that totally opposite is the case!
The initial impression of ‘Eight Of Swords’ being something other than it actually turns out to be is carried through the lengthy atmospheric intro, ‘With Bricks Of Bone And Blood As Mortar’ – and even into the opening few seconds of ‘The Beast’: but, almost immediately the album “transforms” into what can only be described as a good, solid hard rock album. The next thing that grabs your intention is the absolutely huge bass sound, from both Kieran Cant and Adam Tedford: the latter’s tone is bombastically behemothic while the latter’s sheer power and weight would give Iggor Cavalera’s work on the most recent Cavalera Conspiracy album a run for its money in terms of the sheer venomous pounding the skins take. There are places where the sheer power of the bottom end rumblings threaten to drown out the rest of what is being produced, but then it is pulled back just enough to let the twin guitar work of Davey Reay and Giovanni Camillo punch their way through to the surface and deliver the songs with a well-balanced mixture of precision and grit.
With vocalist Matt Adamson sounding uneerily like my mate Tom Harte from Trucker Diablo (especially on closer ‘Just For Tonight’, which is as close as these boys seem to get to slowing down), this opus fits very easily into the sort of groove that the resurrected Norn Iron hard rockers inhabit, alongside the likes of Grifter, etc., with it’s heavy bottom end (sorry, I have to keep coming back to that) adding a density more akin to the likes Five Finger Death Punch. The songs are well-crafted, with the right amount of intensity that will no doubt transfer extremely easily to the live environment – as we’ll (hopefully) find out at Hard Rock Hell in the very near future.
An accomplished and promising debut, and one worth repeated listens without ruining the initial enjoyment.
With Bricks Of Bone And Blood As Mortar / The Beast / Wretch Nailed Tongue / Bereavement Of The Chimes / Goat Chamber / Just For Tonight
Recommended listening: The Beast
Hellion Rising play Hard Rock Hell on Thursday November 13. For information on stage times, visit http://www.hardrockhell.com/news.html.