I’m amazed at times at how some things just generally happen to shift a bad day to a good day. In this case, I woke up with a horrible hangover from the previous night’s activities to find a package in my mail slot from Slovenia, and instantly I perked up, knowing that this was the CD I’d been waiting on for a few weeks. I open the package, and courtesty of Hellsword’s singer/bassist Mike Manslaughter, I had in my hands a copy of Hellsword’s latest EP, the “Blasphemy Unchained” re-issue.
As first reported here several weeks ago, “Blasphemy Unchained” is a re-release of Hellsword’s demo that was first put out roughly one year ago. But this EP contains new artwork, a new track, and a cover of “Live Like An Angel (Die Like a Devil)” by NWOBHM heroes Venom. For me to sit and explain to you what this band sounds like would be a strange and intertwined explaination, so Hellsword’s Mike Manslaughter summed it up for me the best by simply saying “…in the end, the music is important, not the genres. I always considered us a black/speed metal outfit.”
Discovering this band for the first time was quite a breath of fresh air, for me at least. Metal bands tend to spiral off in all of these directions, but generally what appeals to me the most is to find a band with a straight-forward, street-level approach. Hellsword’s latest is just that; no frills and no complex arrangements. It is just straight up, in your face metal with a demo-quality sound that gives their songs an extra bit of gritty charm that high grade recordings just cannot provide. Besides, this is underground extreme metal we’re talking about here, so a no-holds-barred attack is just the perfect characteristic.
The EP starts off with the instrumental “Prelude to Blasphemy” that leads directly into “Unholy Reich.” This combo of songs is the perfect blend of hellish vocals, fast riffing, and a blazing solo, all of which is Hellsword’s recipe for blasphemy (as I can best decribe). This sets the stage for the whole album, which is practically boiling over with thrash-tastic riffing and evil-as-all-hell atmospheric blends.
Next up is the chunk of the EP that I think is the stand-out part of the disc, “Evil’s Rebirth” which is the first track I ever heard from Hellsword courtesty of Youtube, followed by “Marching Towards Heaven (Satan, Death, and Fear)”. What first caught my ear was the furious riffing that opens “Evil’s Rebirth” and rather reminiscent of some old NWOBHM type songs, until the rest of the band and the vocals kick in to immediately shift to the evil sound that Hellsword seemed to have an extremely awesome grasp of. “Marching Towards Heaven (Satan, Death, and Fear)” would probably be the song that I think is indicative of what Hellsword is capable of, namely the evil lyrical themes, riffing that invokes air-guitaring, and some mighty fine soloing from the band’s guitarist, Ironfist.
To close out the EP, the track “Burn the Chapel” is up, and a track previously unreleased by the band. I’m just going to have to go out on a limb with my next statement and say that this is the one song that gives a clear indication of what will come next for Hellsword in their musical evolution. Manslaughter, Ironfist, and drummer Mark Massakre are all in the pocket with a tune that encompasses all that’s wonderful about Hellsword and a step or two ahead of the beginning songs on the EP that were previously released. Closing out the disc is their cover of Venom’s “Live Like An Angel (Die Like a Devil)” with Hellsword giving great credit to this well-known Venom song while still letting the Hellsword sound ring true throughout the track.
After spinning this disc numerous times since I got it, I will adamantly state that I cannot wait to see what comes next for Hellsword. These three guys clearly have an incredible chemistry with one another and seem to be moving along in a great musical direction that they will continue to stay dedicated to. It’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s metal!
My advice to you is to get your hands on this disc before they are all gone! Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org and wait for the evil to arrive at your doorstep.
Doug Palmitier – (a solid) 5
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