Hellgrimm – The Hunger

Band: Hellgrimm
Title: The Hunger
Label: Burning V Records
Release Date: 01 June 2021
Country: USA
Format Reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording

This album kicks off with a groove to bang your head to, that’s what we’re all here for, right? The title track is boozy, and groovy, and certainly gives the impression that perhaps this would be an excellent album to stick in the player on a late night road-trip, eating the asphalt away into the darkness.

A wah-driven descent into solo grabs you before kicking you back into your seat as the groove returns, I love that shit.

It’s kinda doomy, and it’s very groovy and I think the atmosphere would be fantastic in a live setting. I think the production is a little jarring. I’d call it raw, but it doesn’t sound like black metal. I think the issue is that a lot of modern recording equipment is a little “clinical”, and you really have to know exactly what you’re doing to create a raw tone that gels together well, at the risk of sounding both too clean-cut, yet also somewhat underproduced. That’s not to say the music isn’t good, I like it, I’m just very curious to hear it in a live setting.

Onto track two.

I’m really conflicted about this song from the offset, and it keeps making me doubt myself. I keep flicking towards “This song is missing something”, and then it does something slightly weird and takes you to a completely different part of the universe for a short trip, and my does our friend on the guitar enjoy his wah pedal! It’s an interesting development from the first track. I also realize I haven’t yet spoken of Erica Missey’s vocals, which are beautiful, with lyrics so far, I believe, dealing with topics like addiction, I really like how she sounds but I’d really like to hear her open up the taps a bit! I don’t think, this far into the album, we’ve seen all that she’s truly capable of (not to mention she’s also the drummer, and shares bass duties with Jerry, the band’s lead songwriter and guitarist) although perhaps the right context hasn’t arrived yet!

Classic rock-sounding ballad in at track 3 kinda makes me sigh. With the groove through the first songs, this kind of deflates the atmosphere a little. I think the clean tones really let some slightly sloppy playing through on the guitar (which is understandable, given the guy was told by several doctors that he’d never play again), but it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, or even that bad really. Not a track for Thrash fans (or at least not this one).

A nice example of some hypnotic doom, although I’d really like some more riff variation here.

There is a country song. Which turns into grunge. Incidentally I don’t think the rock drum beat works over the country riff. I don’t like this one very much. The solo feels like it’s a clunky version of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

Tracks 6 and 7 are excellent fun. Horror audio clip doom for one, and Black Sabbath inspired groove, peppered with 90s Korn-esque verses make for interesting, and very creepy listening.

Harmonicas open the second-to-penultimate track of this LP, queuing you up for a country-doom riff! And my oh MY I love this riff, fuck it, I love the whole song. There is serious groove here, and the pepper-sprinkling of harmonics drawls really emphasise the track beautiful, even that faithful wah-wah slots in beautifully.

There is a beautiful bridge in Insiduous which feels like it puts you inside some sort of ritual, before building up towards the end of the song, a brilliant moment in a mid-tempo headbanger, leading into the outro track, a couple minutes’ rainy, ambient guitar.

Overall I think there are some excellent ideas presented here, I just think some of them would benefit from a little more development, some of them *country riff cough cough* maybe I wouldn’t have included had I been writing this album (disclaimer: I wasn’t), and the whole thing just needs mixing and production to be tightened up a little notch or two.

I really like that the bass has some room to breathe on this album, it far too oft is left on the metaphorical cutting room floor (unlike the days before Pro Tools and Logic, when it was more of a physical cutting room floor, or while tripping to Tool and you find the META-physical one.), so I’m glad to hear some freedom there.

I also really like the growling backing vocals that I assume must have been provided by Jerry Connor, they accent a lot of the moments in this LP really well.

Also Erica, if you read this, I really wanna hear the crazy end of the spectrum of your voice, I think there’s a badass female punk shriek in you somewhere, there was a moment during insidious I really thought you’d be going there but you didn’t and I really REALLY think it’ll sound/feel amazing if you really let yourself go. I love your vocals as is, I just really wanna feel your voice punching me in the gut and/or ears.

I really feel like I’ve been on a journey with this album, not so much in the progressive, headtrip sense, but certainly a rollercoaster of different styles, influences, and reactions from my brain! I like it, it’s grown on me a lot. It’s not the best, nor the most technically proficient album of all time, but it’s pretty damn fun to listen to, and you can’t say fairer than that.

The first full-length LP from these American groovers, and my first encounter with them personally, I will definitely be going to see them if I get the chance, and I look forward to their next release!

Peace, Love, and Death Metal to all. 6/10 The Phantom Lord



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