Hellryder – The Devil Is A Gambler (Rock of Angels Records)

Thursday, 3rd June 2021
Rating: 8/10

A German supergroup featuring former or current members of acts like Grave Digger, Orden Ogan, Bonfire, Freedom Call, Domain, and Xandria, Hellryder feel the need to get back to the roots of heavy metal through this debut album The Devil Is a Gambler. Assembling material in the fall of 2020, the quartet worked through the rest of 2020 into early 2021 refining and recording these twelve tracks. Expect a straightforward, raw and true sound that has little excess, just driving material that contains a lot of ethics and streetwise execution that put acts like Motörhead, Raven, Accept and early 80’s European power metal in the hearts of metalheads on a global basis.

The tandem of Chris Boltendahl and Axel Ritt as vocalist and guitarist plus main songwriters let the songs flow in an addictive collage of energetic rockers with girth, gallop, and heavy hitting steady grooves. Most listeners would be hard pressed not to shake their bodies and fist pump incessantly to the main riffs and supplementary rhythm section backbone to tracks like “Hellryder” and the seductive mid-tempo rocking title cut. Drummer Timmi Breideband gets ample chances to fuel the faster material like “Jekyll and Hyde” plus “Bad Attitude” with his killer mechanics all around his kit – the fills tasty and main components sure to appease all ardent fans of Mikkey Dee or Scott Travis. Specific songs contain interesting guitar harmonies or dramatic / dynamic textures against Chris’ familiar mid-range Teutonic gritty vocals – “Faceless Jesus” or the semi-boogie, bass stepping “Passion Maker” two standouts. The twelve songs run by at an efficient 39 minutes and change timeframe, containing all the fireworks you’d expect from a veteran set of musicians – tying together an era of music that isn’t given just credit for its spirit and influence on future movements like thrash, death, and crossover metal.

Hellryder isn’t going to exactly ‘excite’ younger listeners as much as appeal to that older brigade who were exposed to classic hard rock and early heavy metal during their youth. The Devil Is a Gambler is a brief reminder of the good times that pure hard rock/heavy metal can provide when you just want to escape, let loose, and crank anthems up to ten.

Hellryder official website