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Smart Satanic speed - 93%

gasmask_colostomy, December 7th, 2017

I suppose everyone gets a second chance, don’t they, except for Adam and Eve? Well, after the pretty nasty debut album Fucking Bleed (nasty because of the misogynistic lyrical subjects more than anything else), Hellstorm get a second chance at a first impression. Their second full-length arrived 13 years after their first, so there’s little expectation for their sound to be consistent between the two, while the lyrics show a definite improvement from the likes of ‘Slutcutter’. In fact, the extremity of the sophomore is noticeably lessened from the scuzzily produced debut, the black metal elements taking a back seat and affecting only some atmospheres and the vocals. Nevertheless, Sacrifice Sacrifice (twice for emphasis, I guess) is a mile-a-minute brawl of thrash/speed metal riffing and broken glass vocals, delivered with all the attitude and passion of the inner circle of Satan.

If you’ve ever enjoyed anything by Midnight, Abigail, the delightfully-monikered Shitfucker, or Venom (where this all really comes from), this will be right up your alley and then some, because the same dose of blackened speed bolts from the guitars of Knatten and Dr Amok to duly flatten any doubters or non-sinners into belief in the Evil One. The speed metal riffing of opener ‘Nocturnal Falcon’ is indicative of a more classic influence too, pulling the fun spirit of the ‘80s along for the ride, as evidenced by plenty of pure heavy metal leads and even a bit of straight ahead worship on the title track, where the words “Sacrifice for metal” can be heard. There aren’t a great deal of slow or medium-paced moments, though that’s for the best because the absolute chaos of the thrashing is just right when combined with the melodic leads, Amok shouting over the whole thing like punk isn’t quite dead but it’s going to die in his lungs very shortly.

One may expect an album such as Sacrifice Sacrifice to be style over substance, yet the songs prove a smart bunch, refusing to rehash the same trick again and again. ‘Return of the Mayans’ is the most potent example of Hellstorm’s ability to remain provoking at slower pace, clanking gloomily through verses that feature dark invention from the bass of Spets, while the NWOBHM melodic playing that shuts the song down takes on an especially charged nature with the raw vocals yowling over the top. A strange combination it may be, but they complement each other incredibly well. Another moment that shows the band willing to branch out is the tongue in cheek ‘Ghoulfriend’, which punches a hole in the speakers like Motorhead have suddenly turned up (Lemmy too, though sounding rather the worse for wear) and doesn’t deviate from banging riff demolition for better or for worse. Those interested solely in speed are going to have plenty to feast on during ‘In the Gallow’, which drops a devious introduction before ramming home an astounding punk/speed/black riff-fest, plus closer ‘Blasphemous Assault’, which assaults as promised, yet is also planned well enough to feature some intricate atmospheric work.

At 35 minutes, Sacrifice Sacrifice doesn’t outstay its welcome, but lasts long enough to prove that Hellstorm have well and truly mastered a formula of splicing high-energy traditional metal together with the essence of extremity and Satanism, to similar effect as The Crown did on Hell Is Here, though not in the same manner. This will wake you up very effectively from any kind of doze you might be in, whether musical, spiritual, or simply the one concerning sleep. As far as second chances go, Hellstorm have absolutely grabbed theirs.