Album Review: Hellcannon- Return to the Wasteland

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Buffalo’s death/thrash metal saviors, Hellcannon, are back with a brand new full length album, released this week on their own label, Vile Records. This might just be their strongest and most consistently badass musical effort to date, so if you like your death metal with a huge helping of thrash and zero bullshit, take a listen to Return to the Wasteland (if you haven’t already).

Vocally, Ryan Fiorta has outdone himself again, bringing a true old school sound to a revitalized, yet classic sounding band. Once upon a time, bands like Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Overkill, Exodus, Death Angel, Testament and Kreator were all writing extremely memorable and pivotal songs on a nonstop basis. Hellcannon fuses those original thrash ideas with classic death metal, casting shades of Deicide, Death, Sadus, early Cannibal Corpse or early Morbid Angel. It all somehow blends together to form this unearthly union between the two subgenres in their primordial forms. While at the same time, Hellcannon is bringing a completely new level of merciless, headbanging, steel wielding, insanity to their already recognizable sound.

Jim Nickles (guitar), Joe Leising (bass) and Marc London (drums) are also all kicking more ass than they know what to do with. This is a band that lives and breathes their genre. When we say death and thrash metal, we mean exactly that. But don’t misunderstand this praise as affirmation that they are some kind of cookie cutter band. Return to the Wasteland is just another example in Hellcannon‘s growing discography of why they stick out from the pack.

The intro track, “Warhaze”, sets the mood, through dark clean guitars and ominous tones. The following tracks, “Day of Demise” and “Disarmed and Deceased” each have their own barrage of quick thrash drums, lightning fast tremolo picking, dark heavy riffing and just downright brutal, punchy vocals.

Bands that want a signature death and thrash sound should invest in Jim Nickles’s own, Shredly Studios, where the magic of Hellcannon really comes into its own.

Songs like “Blood Moon Rising” slow the pace, but the pounding rhythm section keeps things rolling and keeps heads banging. There’s hardly any letup in the entire album. “Road Warriors” brings that good old fashioned rock n roll feel to the band’s signature thrash outlet, featuring Bret Hoffman (Malevolent Creation) on vocals.

“Condemned” probably has the coolest vocal/guitar dynamic on the whole album. The vocal patterns over the guitars in the quick verses of this song really groove a certain way. Hellcannon is one of the few bands that can take deep harsh vocals and make them add even more to the hook of the song.

“Gate Between Realms” has a great driving riff that screams Kreator’s Terrible Certainty. There’s a hint of old school melodic death in the guitar melodies too that I can’t help but get a kick out of, but overall, the guitar work in this one is still very true to form.

The record closes with “For Those Who Have Betrayed Us”, which dips in and out of midpaced sections with very authoritative and unforgiving lyrics. The drum work in this one is very interesting. The vocals kind of play off quick snare rolls and accents in some heavy transitional parts; particularly during the line, “Nowhere to hide, ready to fight…” (You’ll hear what I mean.).  The whole song has a particularly malicious vibe that isn’t quite caught anywhere earlier in the album, so it’s an ideal closer that way.

I recently caught these guys for the first time in a few years on May 7 at A Gathering to Celebrate the Life of Tony Lorenzo. Their set was full of energy and new life and I was already so stoked about their new album coming out. After finally hearing Return to the WastelandI’m fully rejuvenated on Buffalo thrash metal and undeniably can’t wait for more music from the men of Hellcannon. Not to mention, it’s great seeing Joe Leising play in every band ever. Jason Roman is another one, but that’s a completely different article.

Thanks for checking this out. I’m going to leave you now with Hellcannon‘s official video for “Disarmed and Deceased”. And if you think we’re not going to be all over that new Cain album, you’ve got another thing coming! Cheers!

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