Hellspeak is relatively new to the metal scene but its core members vocalist Marc Lopes (Trigger Effect, Dark Day Sunday, Meliah Rage), guitarist Matt Leff ( Adam Bomb, Wicked Witch, Trigger Effect, Machines of Grace), and bassist Chris Raposa (Trigger Effect, Machines of Grace) are no strangers to the world of heavy metal. Just for a little added star power, the band has enlisted the suberb drumming skills of Shadows Fall drummer Jason Bittner. The bands biography describes the bands sound as “intense metal with infectious melody, rapid fire double bass drums, serious low end bass, guitar rhythms and leads that just rip.” The description of the guitar shredding skills of Leff is 100% accurate as he was one of a handful of finalists in the running to replace Graig Goldy in Dio, only to lose out to a young newcomer named Rowan Robertson, but a huge achievement nonetheless. The debut EP was mixed and produced by Paul David Hager (VAN HALEN, GOO GOO DOLLS) and mastered by Howie Weinberg (SLAYER, RUSH, PANTERA) so you already KNOW the EP is going to SOUND excellent…but how is the music?? The EP starts off with Killing Angels With Silence, a barrage of Leff’s heavy riffs, Bittner’s thunderous double bass drums and a melodic and catchy chorus sung by Lopes. Lopes vocal style is a combination of melodic aggression and touches of harsh vocals, although for those (like me) who don’t always prefer harsh vocals, fear not, they are not over-used and are mainly used for effect. My Annihilation is another brutal and heavy headbanger, which is reminiscent of Nevermore. Leff’s use of guitar harmonies and Lopes Halford-esque upper register screams are definite high lights of this one. The chorus could use a little more melody as it’s not very memorable but this is a minor critique. Bittner’s thrash metal roots come shining through with his drumming on the title track. Lopes usues his harsh vocals during the chorus and switches over to an ultra-melodic chorus, which is one of the best moments on the EP. The pace slows down on Me, Myself, and Demons, a mid-tempo song which is not my favorite on the album although the chorus redeems the song with a nice hook and stellar vocal melody line. Until The Light Takes Us is another heavy tune with aggressive harsh vocals during the chorus and another catchy chorus with some added clean guitar for added emphasis on the melody. The solo section shows Leff’s talent for melody as well as his ability to shred with the best of them. Rapoza’s thunderous bass makes apronounced appearance as well. The last song, Words Of A Dying God is also the biggest departure on the EP, an acoustic quasi-ballad with an emotional vocal performance by Lopes ( his best on the EP) which is very reminiscent of Dream Theater vocalist James Labrie’s solo material. The vocal harmonies during the chorus and the acoustic guitar solo are highlights of a well-written song. As of this writing, Hellspeak has yet to perform live although there are plans to perform live in the near future. It will be interesting to see how these songs translate to a live environment. Overall, this is a nice debut for an unsigned band with lots of potential. Jason Bittner’s name being attached to this EP will guarantee that the band gets some well-deserved exposure. Recommended for fans of Soilwork, Shadows Fall, and vintage metal such as Priest, Queensryche, and Maiden.
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