Boss Metal Zone pedals have had a recent resurgence in the past oh….I don’t know…Lets use a round number like 15 years give or take. These pedals and the bands that idolize the old metal sound of bands like Entombed, and more recently Trap Them, have become bigger and more prevalent than we could ever know really. As extreme music gains more and more of a foothold on what we can say is “popular” music, these worshipers are becoming ever increasing in numbers, ultimately leading to a decline in their appeal and originality and creating a genre so full of half-assed copycats that there is no more originality or appeal to it. I am looking at DJENT and Deathcore and tech death metal as examples of this. I don’t care if you have a 10 string guitar, add chuggas to your death metal, or can do a sweep arpeggio of 400 notes in 2.6 seconds while a drummer beats off in 4/5.7 time because he can. If it sucks, it fucking sucks, and reaffirms that there is nothing new under the sun (thanks Coalesce). This happens with every band in every genre, and it is hard to avoid with idol worship, and ultimately the bands may as well jump off the fucking cliff to a well of despair like lemmings thrown to their deaths.
Thankfully, Hellkeeper avoid this huge chasm by adding minute touches of other genres to their D-Beat, Metal Zone loving music and take a few misses when they swing, but shit if this album, A World Within Flesh, does not hit the fucking spot, because it definitely better than most, but still has some blemishes that can be cleaned up.
Hailing from Kingston, NY, (where there is an excellent bar/restaurant called The Anchor, which is highly recommended to visit for their food, selection of beers, and awesome bartenders and music selection), this band of up and comers have been slogging it for a few years, bringing blackened hardcore to the masses and slowly have been gaining a following. This is nothing new, and other bands have done it better, but goddamn, these guys do it fucking right enough.
The first track on this album, titled “Obscure”, kicks off with a nice slow and heavy feel, with twin harmonizing guitars and a crunchy riff, before hitting sixth gear and bringing the ferocity up to speed, and ending with a satisfying chugga chugga riffage that made me feel their anger and push through the pain of squatting 315 without knee wraps for the first time.
Things continue on the d-beaten path through the rest of the record, with tracks like “Drown”, “Henbane”, and “Simulacrum” being fucking jammed pack with the riffs and ferocity you expect from blackened hardcore, the tremolo picking of single note lines accentuating the speed riffs and the vocals that show anger and despair. The drummer for this band is fucking awesome, and could be the next Dave Witte if he branched out in to other genres of music without fear. This band is competent in their musicianship and add a small layer of experimentation to this genre that is much needed.
Speaking of experimentation…the track “Threadbare” threw me a sucker punch. This song…could be found on rock radio, made by one of those bands who claim they are metal. It is well written with enough hooks to catch the listener. It isn’t overly pop like Torche, but it is catchy as shit, and got stuck in my head. On top of this, it fits on the album somehow.
This album fucking rocked my socks, to tell you the truth. The album is written about wanting “to live in a dream world, because reality is too painful,” and it shows it. The album oozes anger, despair and a desperation like money shots of barb wire hitting the face of people you hate or despise in the eyes and the mouth. The album is not a benchmark on the genre or style it is in though, but it is a mark and a damn good one at that. Hellkeeper have shown an impressive stake in the game with A World Within Flesh, and I, for one, can not wait to hear more from these guys and see what, and how, their sound progresses.
Score: 8/10. Naysayers can suck it, this is pretty damn good, not great, but fucking good and well done, showing hope for this band.
Release Date: April 7th, 2017
Label: Fuzz Records
Favorite Tracks: “Obscure,” ” Threadbare,” “Simulacrum”
For Fans Of: Trap Them, Cursed, All Pigs Must Die