From the city that straddles two states, this Kansas City thrash outfit has started to strike out from their mono-subgenre roots and take on two beasts at once. I’ve known of Hellevate for the past seven years or so, and despite numerous member swaps, they’ve managed to keep a forward momentum through every change. Their newest single dropped during the holiday season in late December. So if you’ve been nostalgic for the Yule days of recent yore and some sinister tales of dark folktales told next to crackling fires, dim down the room lights and enjoy this proggy thraster-piece in solitude.
The first thing to smack you with the impish or admirable switch of sound is the gritty, grimy guitar tone from hell. It’s apparent Hellevate aren’t fucking around when it comes to the aesthetic they’re shooting for. Chunky riffs, spicy fills, and relentless drums abound before the sweet fire vocals blacken the bonfire logs. Any chorus that’s prefaced with a vocal dive-bomb and contains old school thrash, gang vox (a la four sweaty dudes singing in a booth) has my attention. Their newest edition, via the vo-kills section of the band, adds a depth and dimension that was previously missing from the quintet. While I loved their aggressively solid thrash sound of years past, I’m glad to see their essence maturing with their musical sensibilities. Think of it as trading a lang seax for a saber, it’s not as straightforward, but you’ll feel the bite of steel just as hard whenever it hits you. For all the holiday lyrical themes, this track is a stand-alone that manages to keep you banging your head while wondering what time presents are going to be opened.
Including a brand new frontman and the return of their former drummer RJ the Machine Gun (the most talented out of their lineup of skin smashers, I have to say), Hellevate is gunning for another run at the big leagues if their next album promises to be anything like this single. (Zack, if you’re reading this, that bass solo was a taint tickler in the best way possible.) It seems like they’ve finally hit the sweet spot of finding their own sound while remaining accessible to their old fans and those at large who are getting bored with the re-thrash wave of homogeneity. If you’re in the market for some corn-fed, good ol’ American thrash with a touch of European stylistic and melodic sensibilities, dive into their discography, and you’ll definitely find at least a handful of tracks you can add to your playlists.