Hellevate – The Purpose Is Cruelty (Self-Released)Friday, 13th January 2023
Even in independent, underground band situations, lineup stability can be a key struggle to work through the longer one gets in their career. Missouri thrash/power metal act Hellevate has once again moved another singer into the microphone position – Robert Browne taking over for Erik Schmutzler, previously appearing on the group’s 2019 Krampusnacht EP. Now that the landscape is clear from lockdown pandemic mode, the five piece delivers another potent five-song EP with The Purpose Is Cruelty – hammering down on a style that has crossover appeal, militant bite, attitude aplenty to sever tendons while sending people into pit-hungry frenzy.
Following a minute-plus introduction that contains spooky wind effects, organ parts, and a female narrative, the title track kicks into gear through a series of crunchy, ripping thrash riffs, heads down drumming, and the pissed off new voice of Robert Browne that matches the aggressive nature that Hellevate continue to spit forth. Style-wise the band crossover multiple sub-genres of metal – thrash to power, hardcore and a bit of extreme metal in the mix – galvanizing the troops through their energized passion to the songwriting. They can intertwine the old school thrash riffing with this modern sense of angst in just the right doses – people will be hard pressed to not slam to the transitions or circular guitar breaks/melodies for “Dagon”, while the Megadeth meets Exodus-ish “Die Or Be Killed” steamrolls between the rhythm riff parade, sonic tradeoffs, as well as supplementary narrative accents that make for dynamic intrigue through each successive pass. The tandem of Dan Whitmer and Joshua Cole on guitars should tickle all those ideal superior axe player trademarks people expect in this style – fluid, rock solid, even adding some tremolo-fueled evilness when called for on “Buried Under Mistakes”.
Self-produced to be clear without too sterile/clinical in terms of impact, Hellevate have been a favorite act of this scribe since taking in their Weapons Against Their Will album from 2016. The Purpose Is Cruelty continues the aural assault in the right, forceful direction – ideal for those who love US thrash that’s in your face, leaving no stone unturned in destruction mode.