For the better part of five years, North East based Hellion Rising have been one of the hardest working bands on the scene. Playing up and down the country, stopping off at various festivals and sharing the stage with the likes of Saxon, Black Label Society and UFO as well as securing high profile support slots to bands such as Black Spiders and Iron Reagan.
Today sees the band release their third EP Kill ‘em/Cure ‘em which is quite simply, their best collection of songs to date. The signature groove orientated sound which occupies the past offerings is still very much intact, however there are more than enough fresh, flourishes at play to distinguish this as a step in a new direction from their past two releases. The go-to band point of reference for this sort of music is, and always will be the legendary Pantera, and much like the self-titled and Eight of Swords EP’s there is still clearly a heavy Pantera influence involved in the riffing and songwriting, Kill ‘em/Cure ‘em however has as much in common with doom or stoner metal as it does Pantera with the tone and production of the album. The snarly, top end filled production which usually inhabits groove metal is pretty much non-existent here, there are as many nods to the early Black Sabbath albums or bands such as Kyuss and Orange Goblin, as there are to the more contemporary influences which have been present in Hellion Rising’s previous work. Factor in a bit of Misfits’esque horror storytelling and you’re in the right ball park to begin to pin down this albums themes and stylistic choices. Big fat bass lines and more straightforward drum beats hold down the majority of the groove throughout and the guitar tone is somewhat cleaner. This allows the lead lines to soar above the track and at times, provide their own ‘singalong’ melodies, Bastardisation being a clear example of this.
The mixed bag of influences is what has always made this band’s music most impressive, final track, and the EP’s clear stand out moment Crossripper opens with a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on say a Lamb of God record, however the vocal melodies are huge and almost euphoric in their delivery. The track goes just about everywhere within its six and a half minutes, for example, around the one minute thirty mark is a little embellishment of black metal influence whereas later on the build to the guitar solo is a straight up stadium rock moment.