HellChamber – Safe and Manufactured
You expect a lot from a rock festival, Good music, drinks and good company(and far too many hangovers), but what you do not expect is to be handed a CD of a band you have never heard of then be blown away(when you finally get around to listening to it).
That is how I found Canada’s HellChamber. Whilst staying on Lemmy Lane at Graspop I found two neigbours who had travelled from Canada to see this and do a trek around Europe. We hit it off straight away(well, everyone knows that it is illegal not being nice in Canada) and on the last day before parting they handed me this EP which I stuck in my bag and left there for a very long time.
After being chased more than once I felt I had to sit down and finally listen to it and with no checking them out beforehand I had no idea what to expect but with one of the boys highlights of Graspop being Megadeth I had a rough idea and as soon as “Existence” kicks off I could see why they liked them. The riffage and drums at the start are very reminiscent of old Mr grumpy to a tea but once the song takes off the vocals are very different. We get a severe chugging guitar and if I am honest a bit of a disjointed song. There is a lot of influences wrapped up in this track from Sabbath to Faith no More. A good enough start to any EP, even if it is a bit rough around the edges. The ending of the song is incredible though.
I had already made my mind up that this EP was going to follow a pattern but I was seriously mistaken. “Suffering is Optional” picks up the pace and this is a classic thrash opening but singer Garth Allen’s vocals are the difference here. Crystal clear to being spat at you with sheer venom to match the lyrics and as he sings “Stay away from me” I reckon you would be best advised to heed that warning. This song is brilliant as it veers from thrash to melodic with a sublime guitar breakdown from Tyler Kinakin and Blake Charlton. These guys are on fire here.
“The After” was a total surprise as we get a bluesy guitar click with Garth’s tones turned right down. The sadness drips through your speakers but rather than a ballad is seems like a repose, a break from the chaos, one of those moments when life gets too much and you just want to sit in a darkened room. This would be a perfect accompaniment to one of those moments. The fuzzy guitars is a hundred miles(Kilometers for the people back home who have been too stoned to drive since legalisation) away from the first two tracks and shows you the band’s diversity in a blink of an eye. Again this song finishes on a really powerful note as the pace picks up and the anger comes back. This is a work of art and metal at is best.
The tempo was never going to stay low for long and the band go for broke on closer “Last Rite”. We go back to that thrashy roughness but maintain the strong vocals and the rhythm section of James Eckert and Barry Branigan keeps everything fluid during the guitar breakouts, they pick up the pace perfectly and create a solid backbone. This is a great track to finish this offering.
What a way to discover a band and what a band to discover. HellChamber may very well be like their twitter account displays(Canada’s best kept secret). I am now off to go check out their debut EP and full length album, do yourself a favour and gives these lads a listen…you will not be disappointed.
Review Ritchie Birnie
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