On the cusp of a new Formula 1 season, this avid follower of the motorsports spectacle might have been sympathetic to a band whose sophomore release (2017s “Free Again”) paid tribute to the late great Ayrton Senna. However, when said band sound as if the last thirty years (let alone twenty-five since Senna died) didn’t happen, it’s difficult to be positive if you’re on the hunt for new sounds.
I can’t really fault Hell Fires third album on a technical level. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was a demo in places, where the guitars occasionally sound like they’re struggling to keep pace with the drums. The album has a distinctly organic and classic sound throughout, from the Thin Lizzy-a-like main riff on “The Dreamer”, to the Maiden-esque gallop and harmonies of “Knights Of The Holy”. Other songs such as “Born To Burn” dip into the enthusiastic US thrash of early Anthrax and Testament. Clearly this time machine straddles both sides of the Atlantic.
The musicianship is top notch. Whilst singer Jake Nunn is no Bruce Dickinson (let’s face it; who is!?!), he certainly possesses an impressive set of lungs. The guitar work is faultless, the solos in particular very expressive. This is all backed up by a solid rhythm section; the bass has a nice growl to it, and the drumming showcases a talent and flair for fills, competently accentuating songs without descending into flamboyant showboating.
Much like other bands of this ilk such as Enforcer, Reign Of Fury and Evile, it’s great fun, and the guys clearly love what they’re doing. Indeed, if Fenriz were still curating his “Band Of The Week” blog celebrating old school writing and production values, Hell Fire would certainly feature. On a personal level though, if I want to listen to entertaining NWOBHM or thrash, I’ll put on some early Saxon or Annihilator.