Monday, August 8, 2016

Hellevate-Weapons Against Their WIll

America's Heartland in terms of metal music has usually been confined to Chicago, as seemingly, few other cities in the region get any respect. Kansas City aims to change that, and with power metal band Vanlade already getting their foot through the door, another band is looking to join them in Hellevate. Originally starting out as a death/thrash hybrid, they have refined their sound to be more traditional heavy metal, with elements of power and speed metal being mixed in with their ever-present thrash influences. With a self-titled debut already out, they are ready to take the next step with a new album out in Weapons Against Their Will.

In the time since their self-titled debut and Weapons Against Their Will, Hellevate changed vocalists and one of their guitarists, leaving brothers Dan and RJ Whitmer, as well as bassist Zack Burke as the holdovers from the first album. Stepping into the fold is guitarist Joshua Cole and vocalist Andy Lufkin. Musically, things are actually improved, as evidenced on "Blasphemer Deceiver," where the music has not only gotten better, but it comes together to create one of the more complete songs on the album. Lufkin's vocals are generally harsh, but also have the range to stay with the music. Group vocals make an appearance for the first time on "The First Flame," which adds an element of old-school to the proceedings. Production values aren't clean, which works to their advantage, as it's the type of music that isn't supposed to sound sterile. The dual guitars of Joshua Cole and Dan Whitmer are powerful and are complimented by the rhythm section of Zack Burke on bass and RJ Whitmer on drums. That musicianship is on full display on "The Iconoclasm," which is also where Lufkin's vocals are given time to shine. While Weapons Against Their Will isn't necessarily going to be considered a great album (more above average), it is clear that Hellevate has an eye towards the live setting, and that is where the songs will be at their best.

In the grand scheme of things, trying to reinvent the wheel in metal music is something that few bands these days can do. However, paying tribute to those that came before you is something that many try to do, with mixed results. In the case of Hellevate, they do a pretty good job of invoking memories of 80's thrash while working speed and power metal into their sound. Weapons Against Their Will is at worst, a solid album, and at best, an album that merits quite a few spins and if you get the chance, experience in a live setting.

The album is available on their bandcamp page.

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