Album Review: Hellcrawler – Wastelands
|Artist: Hellcrawler (Slovenia)
Album: Wastelands (2011)
Genre: Crusty Death ‘N Roll
Death ‘n’ Roll has been taken to new heights with this recent début album of ambitious Slovenians by the name of Hellcrawler. Wastelands takes the template of Death ‘n’ Roll à la Entombed and then adds an interesting mix of Sludge, Crust-Punk and D-beat. If you can get that around your head, then read on. Free music inside!
The band opens strongly with “Devastation”, the longest track at 4 minutes, and sets the mood for the next half an hour, even if the pace varies tremendously. The guitars, provided by Aris and Andraz, are as dirty as Motörhead and oldschool Amebix, but still make room for some chaotic soloing such as on “Motosluts From Hell” or D-beat like on “Yet Again The Greed Of Man”. Valter’s bass must have been massively downtuned, as it is nearly undetectable in the muddy mix, but still adds to the crusty crunch.
The main disappointment on the album is the drumming by Pijoe, which although played well is mostly buried aside from the cymbalwork. There is also a similarity of riff style, in particular between “Rattlesnake Tavern” and “Firefly Powerplant”, which makes the material grow old slightly quickly. But given how brief the release is, unless you focus intently on each song then it’ll be a while yet before they go stale.
Miran’s vocals are an enjoyable if slightly unvarying mid-range rasp whose lower end brings to mind Hearse’s Johan Liiva. Fortunately, the lyrics more than make up for the monotony, following a concept about a post-apocalyptic wasteland featuring raiders (“Motosluts From Hell”), rebellion (“Post-Apocalyptic Revolt”) and betrayal (“Yet Again The Greed Of Man”). One of my favorite lyrical sections is “a place to prosper / well that is gone so never mind / and we have lost her / lost our earth to nukes and lies”. There are also three different film samples, all from Mad Max 2, which bookmark the album and add to the atmosphere. Even without knowing the movie, the quotes explain the origins of the album very well: “I remember a time of chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land.”
Aside from production tightening, Wastelands is a strong album, and fans of Entombed, Amebix and Trap Them should definitely check it out. The band have definitely worked out their sound and identity, and I am very much excited for the next release! You can download the album for precisely nothing at all at their official Bandcamp page!
My Grade: 8.5/10
Buy this when:
- You like Entombed and Amebix.
- You like free music, and don’t mind downloads.
- You like Slovenia or post-apocalyptic wastelands (hey, who doesn’t?).