Taking the thrash metal scene in their stride, Swansea based quintet Helldown have been extremely quiet since 2016’s self-titled demo. Having previously being hailed as the new wave of British thrash, it’s clear that there’s a huge precedent to be set by the band. Needless to say, new EP, In Deaths Hands, is a relentlessly aggressive ode to old school thrash metal. Comprising of 4 singles, this EP takes clear influence from the greats; channelling the body of early Metallica and Testament, with lashings of Pantera-esque riffs to create a sound that the Bay Area scene would be proud of.
Opening single 'The Unnamed' immediately reinforces Helldown's influences, with vocalist Ben Evans sporting a Tom Araya style vocal from the off, and guitarist Lewis Larkham channelling a Dimebag Darrell style of riffing. In Deaths Hands essentially follows this sort of homage approach to classic thrash throughout. Similarly 'Mortal Shell' offers all of the generics that the genre is widely respected for. Larkham seamlessly blends groove heavy riffs with Ross Thomas’ fast paced drumming, which provides plenty to get stuck into. It seems this is where the EP steps up a notch; riff heavy rhythms and lyrically aggressive spouts pack a real punch.
'Heretic' though is a straight up tribute to the legends of the genre. And it's the unrelenting bassline that stands as the major selling point of the track - It’s virtually impossible to keep your head still while it plays out. EP closer 'Flames of Heresy' is a powerhouse in itself too - and is the perfect closing single for the EP; offering copious amounts of groove with an aggressive amount of passion seeping through.
Melodically, In Deaths Hands provides such angst and bite that it undeniably reinforces the chaotic personality that thrash is generally known for. With that said though the EP often craves a stronger level of ingenuity vocally. The lack of chemistry between the dual vocal attack gets progressively apparent throughout the Record. With Evans’ quintessentially British twang occasionally grating a little too heavily.
Helldown’s incredibly tight sound is quite literally thrash metal in it’s prime. Sharp, vicious riffs and ferocious growls highlight the qualities that this genre is so deeply admired for. Admittedly In Deaths Hands isn’t necessarily pushing any boundaries, but each track oozes promise for their live performance.