Part 2 of my journey into retro-metal side-projects is Hellish Crossfire. (Part 1 was my Zwartketterij review, and I enjoyed that part of the trip, so let’s hope my luck holds up here.)
Tracking down information on these guys is difficult; no website. Nothing on Myspace. (That part makes me like ’em already.) Just a little blurb on I Hate‘s site that declares Hellish Crossfire to be German thrash. RYM says they share members with fellow thrash act Delerium Tremens, among others. Fair enough. They’re named after an Iron Angel album, so that’s something. Hold on, kiddies, and let’s just let the music do the talking…
I mean, let’s let it do the talking to me. And then I’ll do the talking to you. Or rather, the typing to you…Whatever. You know what I’m trying to say. Or type.
This is German thrash, the early stuff that ratcheted up the speed and aggression and helped begat death metal. It’s also very well-played with some cool riffs. And it’s also kind of boring. This is what it’s saying to me…It’s saying, “We like Kreator. And Protector. And probably Holy Moses. And some other stuff you’ve heard of but don’t own, like Violent Force.” It’s saying, “All that stuff is really kick ass and we’re going to just do exactly what it does, but we’re going to do it without any of whatever magic it takes to make the sound leap forth from the speakers and grab your balls and scream out [in a Mille Petrozza voice], “Fucking listen to MEEEEEEE!” That’s what this is saying to me. And what I’m typing to you.
None of these songs seem to have any real hooks. I’m not asking for big-ass Nickelback choruses and shit. (Or rather “the big-ass Nickelback chorus,” since there seems to be only one.) I’m just asking for something that would make me want to listen to them again. Or just something that makes me remember one from the next when I do listen to them. Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram spends a fun album title on the same things you’ve heard a hundred times. There are few guitar leads, and none are particularly worthy of mention. The vocals are standard proto-death fare. The guitar tone is pretty cool and… I’m grasping at straws here. This is a no-frills thrash attack that I honestly wish had a frill or two for me to comment upon. There’s hope for the next Hellish Crossfire album, since these guys can play their instruments and all, but this one just blows by in a whirlwind and is gone again.
In the legions of new thrash albums thrown at you in the last few years, there are several more deserving of your time and money, and most of the classic era stuff is head-and-shoulders beyond this. Slaves Of The Burning Pentagram sounds better than it is, both in the sense of the description being more interesting than the record and in the sense of the recording being better than the songs. I’ve seen this one praised in a few places here and there, and I’ll go ahead and be the dissenting vote and say: I clearly don’t get it. Not bad, but just another thrash record, if you ask me.