Hellevate – Krampusnacht (Self-Released)Monday, 30th December 2019
Three years removed from the band’s last full-length Weapons Against Their Will in 2016 (previously reviewed on DR), changes are afoot in the Hellevate camp. Former drummer RJ Whitmer is back on the throne while latest vocalist Erik Schmutzler replaces Andy Lufkin who left in 2018. The quintet released the “Last of the Fell” single in 2018 to pacify the public – setting the stage for this brief Krampusnacht release. It’s tough to say whether it’s an EP at three tracks or a single given the fact that there are two full songs and one brief “If You Want Peace…” interim effort at 43 seconds, but it’s a quick hitting affair that continues to showcase the band’s potent thrash/power metal blend.
At almost seven-minutes, the title track contains a sturdy power riff foundation, natural tempo transitions that switch from conventional thrash to semi-groove in nature, allowing Erik to float up and down his sinister register that can be melodic and nasty at the drop of a hat. An extended lead break with tradeoffs from Dan Whitmer and Josh Cole features a bevy of wah-wah solo and speedy elements, plus bassist Zack Burke also gets a brief spotlight as the gang background chorus chants command perfect audience unison accompaniment. It’s a song that appeals to Nevermore fanatics as much as Megadeth mavens, even with the sleigh bells ending the arrangement. “Prepare for War” has that straightforward metal anthem appeal, aligning more with Primal Fear and Manowar in terms of hooks, main parts, and upper tier melodies in the vocal department. The instrumental section contains a circular exotic guitar motif, giving the song consistent earworms to collect as you’d imagine mandatory headbanging in unison to the key crunchy riffs. Before you know it, the twelve-minute timeframe vanishes and most will probably yearn for more Hellevate- so hopefully this is a teaser that will be fleshed out with something more substantial in 2020.
Another US band willing to keep power/thrash metal alive, Krampusnacht keeps the proceedings tight, in your face, and mandatory for most who love those genres with a unique, melodic singer who can also scream to the heavens. Plus – how can you pass up their Bandcamp name your price offer for this?