Hellfrost – Extinction
(S/R – 2019)
It's great to feel assured that amongst all the covid chaos that killer albums still managed to eventually us.
This second album by Florida extreme metallers Hellfrost has certainly been worth the wait, coming on the back of a well graced debut and so since 2015. Notwithstanding the obligatory high-pitched growls as vended forth by Mainman, David Vainer, a delectably melodic sounds overall dominates this nine-tracker. You only have to hear the opening title number with its nifty bass intro, igniting into a toe-tapping stomp, a stonking prelude for everything else to come up. This lot appear to do things in twos, as per track 2, 'Lost Generation', an old school chugger with strongly Maiden-flavoured solo interludes (strings now handled by Vainer himself), though it flips to a more Megadeth side for the main break.
'The Demonologist' is a Gothic upbeat rocker in the Mercyful Fate vein with some great melodic soloing and well spaced out vocal parts. You don't have to look far to find old time thrash at it's finest. 'Dance of Destruction' sees you right from the starting second, with brittle lead lines along the top, between before and after the verse elements, slowing to a stampy middle section with its minor progressive tilt before taking back off for the final part. 'Sentinel' is a succulent follow-up to the previous, each bit as punishing and fast, with David's voice sounding increasingly like Obituary's John Tardy across this middle part of the album.
As if we haven't been spoilt enough a third and even thrashier helping in the guise of 'Desert of Skeletons' still allowed to visit the progressive address of earlier tracks with excessive aplomb, and still no let up on the guitar as a slightly bluesier edge briefly wellows up. 'Escape From Planet Earth' is is probably one of the angriest tracks vocally as well as closest to the 80's Bay Area sound as they dare legally get without neglecting their black metal roots. Certifiably a huge pogo-along for when live music is once again free to happen, bouncy trad thrasher 'From the Tombs' is one you can actually sing along to, with just about every word Vainer vomiting forth actually audible. A lethally Scandinavian flavour compliments the chorus backing structure before a thumping rhythm guitar ride-out caps it off.
'Facing the Void' a fiery triple-step speeder is saved ideally for last and David's fiercest vocal work in contrast to at least the preceding tune four of the earlier tracks. The strings do their thing again to give this album a deserving climax amidst more multi-speed dynamics, driving home the message that black metal is not automatically an endless slab of speed and noise for forty minutes. Hellfrost do their bit to respect the genre's core requirements but reap the wider seeds within metals heavier field. A terrifying testament that our friends across still know how to do it.
By Dave Attrill
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Emperor, My Dying Bride, Sepultura, Hatebreed, Testament, Forbidden & Paradise Lost.