HELLSPIKE - Lords Of War
December 31, 2020, 2 weeks ago
(Metal On Metal Records)
Too old to trick-or-treat, but Halloween still provided some goodies this year, most notably, the release of the debut from new Portuguese outfit, Hellspike. The trio of scene veterans offer a quality effort, walking the line between vintage sounding thrash/speed metal. The accent is on guitar playing, rather than mere riffs and, truth be told, if the gruff (yet discernible) vocals of bassist Rick Thor were smoothed over (higher & more operatic), the music would probably be classified as old school power metal: Jag Panzer, Grave Digger, Iced Earth, etc.
Bullet belts, bandoleers and straight leg jeans tucked into white, hi-top sneakers...what year is it again? Then again, the first sound heard, as they commence opening "Titan's Clash" is a lightly strummed guitar. Pun intended, fret not, as the intensity and speed are quickly amplified, augmented by a couple of (literal) explosions: gritty and Motorhead-ish. "Storm Of Fear" has that echoing "whoa whoa" refrain, in the distance. Snare drum pummeling "House Of Asterion" is a riff-ride, punctuated by some whammy bar dive bombs, but always returning to a basic melody. March of a jack-booted throng greets "Full Spectrum Dominance", the guitar adopting a dirty, echo tone as the 3:45 instrumental grinds away. It is not the sole voiceless option, as a few songs later, there's "Iron Forces United", basically an extended (3:48) guitar workout/solo.
Built on a catchy, recurrent riff, "Fallen Empire" gets the noggin' bobblin'. Spirited solo, to boot. The titular track is the truest/straight ahead thrash/speed offering, but even here, Hellspike can't avoid adding a widdling solo patch. Nice! Galloping "Stellar Victory" (video exists online) closes this collection, in fine fashion. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable, out-of-nowhere surprise!