Ever wondered which country has the best, most intensely passionate metal fans? Certainly the Iron Maiden documentary, ‘flight 666’ highlighted the South American countries as being particularly hard core but, for my money, you will not find a more devoted metal community than in the Eastern European countries, particularly Poland, where to purchase CDs or concert tickets is to be considered pricey at the very least, whilst to purchase musical instruments is downright expensive. Yet the metal scene there flourishes and, ignoring internationally successful acts like Behemoth, you have amazing bands such as virgin Snatch, Hunter, Acid Drinkers, Corruption and Armia all regularly touring the country and bringing their blistering music to small, yet utterly crammed venues and stages in pretty much any town that will have them. As a result the fans and artists support each other in a way you just don’t see very often in England, and to attend a concert in Poland is a life-affirming experience that is not easily forgotten.
The expense of instruments also has the effect that to buy a guitar, drums or bass is a pledge that you will dedicate yourself to learning it (as opposed to have it sitting in a corner as a means to attract girls and appear cool) and even smaller, local bands tend to boast a wealth of technical talent that even major label acts might blanch at. Thus it is no surprise that Hellectricity can lay claim to impeccable musical ability and a fiery, passionate devotion to metal that explodes out of the speakers from the very first track (‘silver bullets’) and which does not abate until the album has spun through its ten tracks. Coming across like a blistering mix of Polish ‘soul metal’ legends Hunter and Metallica, ‘Salem Blood’ is a fast-paced and brilliantly fun mix of traditional metal and post-thrash (i.e. the black album) Metallica, complete with James Hetfield-esque vocalisations. ‘Endless lie’ opens with Wisnia’s pummelling drums (although the name Cherry does seem a touch incongruous) before kicking into mid-paced, southern-tinged metal reminiscent of ‘better than you’ (‘reload’) albeit with a thousand times more energy and attitude. ‘Wolf or man’ is a faster, heavier beast that chugs along on the sort of devastating riff that Dave Mustaine loves to throw into the mix whilst singer Rufus warns that the “beast is inside you”. It’s raw, untamed thrash metal that studiously ignores the more polished thrash metal being bandied about now and, instead hails back to the days of leather, denim ‘n’ tape trading with its rough edges and Slayer-referencing guitar solos. Taking a subtly different tack, ‘Plague IXIX’ is a lighter, more punk-influenced blast that recalls the ‘Kill ‘em all’ days with its trebly guitars and threatening lyrics.
For a true head-banger’s delight, look no further than ‘nightmare’ which has a serious groove to it thanks to the grinding riffs of Przemas and lock-tight bass-lines of Qba, and the fluid solo that graces the bridge is no mean effort either. ‘Don’t burn the witch’ is a similarly hefty beast, the bass thundering through the mix and the chugging riff solid enough to hold its own on ‘death magnetic’. It’s as if Hellectricity have been drawing influence from all the major thrash acts in order to create their own composite image of the ultimate metal band, all leather-clad swagger and fret-board bothering solos bought together by a shared love of horror-movie imagery and ear-destroying volume. ‘Eat me alive’ is a fast, motorhead-aping, punk-infused blast which is gloriously raw; ‘beware of light’ is more traditionally thrash, the guitar riffs coming thick and fast as Rufus delivers the vocals like a man possessed. The epic length ‘Salem blood’ is a personal favourite with its brooding intro and devastating groove (you can imagine it must be awesome live) and it draws together all the elements you could want for an atmospheric heavy metal song. The album ends on the blistering ‘prophecy’, a thunderous climax for an album that draws its strength from the whole heavy metal / thrash metal spectrum to deliver a powerful, passionate monster that is guaranteed to have you banging your head involuntarily throughout.
Hellectricity aren’t out to change the world with their sound – this is not the sound of a band attempting to alter the musical map or shift boundaries, rather it is a lengthy love letter to the wonderful genre of heavy metal, delivered with conviction by a first-class band who are clearly very much in love with the power of music. Referencing a huge array of acts from Iron Maiden to Metallica and possessed of a strong grasp of melody which keeps things moving apace and keeps the tracks memorable, ‘Salem blood’ is simply a great metal album, nothing more, nothing less. Hugely entertaining, grittily powerful and full of great head-banging moments ‘Salem Blood’ is an album well worth checking out.
Want to check out the mighty Hellectricity? Here’s ‘Silver Bullets’ from the album: