Hell Fire – “Mania” (RidingEasy Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Hell Fire began when bassist Herman Bandala moved to San Francisco from Tijuana in the hope of forming a heavy metal band. Since then that dream has become a reality, with Hell Fire on an unstoppable roll following their debut and now onto their 3rd release in “Mania”! The lure of this band is simple: catchy songs played with conviction and most of all, an authentic heavy metal sound that goes right back to the 80s. That’s right, despite being based in the home of (Bay Area) thrash metal, Hell Fire actually go back to bands like Iron Maiden and Riot while acknowledging the inspiration of local legends Metallica. In fact, the style, attitude and vibe from the band remind me of a youthful Metallica, Megadeth and Exodus, so these guys might be well onto something given the strength of the 10 tracks here. Opening with the aptly titled ‘Warpath’ it’s an unbelievable mix of Motorhead and Riot given the chugging riffs, double bass drumming and the raw screams from vocalist / guitarist Jake Nunn before the wild but melodically spirited solo from Tony Campos comes in. Rumbling in on ‘Isolator’ thanks to Bandala’s heavy, rumbling bass, there’s an interesting mix of raw riffing with catchy, warbling power melodies that makes for an epic groove topped off nicely by Nunn’s equally throat strained singing, while both his solo and Campos’s resonate even more catchy melodies, both of the heavy and power metal variety. Closing off with ‘Masochist’ with grim bass in the background only adds the dramatic contrast of the twin melodic guitars on this epic number, with Nunn really singing his heart out, not forgetting the smashing drum work of Mike Smith, before it all takes off speedily driven by twin solos into pure heavy metal head banging heaven – excellent! Certainly living up in every aspect, “Mania” is everything any lover of true metal could crave for.