It's been two years since the Raleigh, North Carolina foursome Hellrazor unleashed their debut full-length of thrashy power metal. The band's sound on In The Wild drew deserved comparisons to American power metal icons Iced Earth, though there was room for Hellrazor to improve. The band is back with a follow-up EP, Soothsayer, and proves that they're on the right track to becoming a force within the style.
With the comparison to Iced Earth it's fairly evident what Hellrazor is all about. Soothsayer is comprised of four tracks of aggressive, gritty power metal with significant thrash undercurrents. Frontman Alan Rueda belts out the lyrics in a steady mid-range bellow, though he oftentimes effectively adopts a thrashy rasp. His style and ability are perfectly suited to the metal put forth by the band, who back Alan up with occasional gang choruses.
Guitarist Charley Shackleford, who also spends time in the doom/death outfit Daylight Dies, finds an up-tempo outlet in Hellrazor as he puts forth some seriously meaty riffs. The title track is a fine example of Charley's prowess, his riffs punctuated by some snazzy licks while he keeps up with Chuck Giardino (drums) and Dave Sanchez (bass) as they put together some rather complex pacing. "Closer to the Grave", the last track on the EP, opens with the most prominent work from Sanchez and contains some truly heavy riffs from Charley.
While "Soothsayer" and "Closer to the Grave" are the strongest tracks on the EP, the remaining two songs are far from filler. Pummelling double-bass, chugging riffs, and angered vocals (pierced by the occasional falsetto) are Hellrazor's bread and butter and they don't hold back. Soothsayer may not be ground-breaking, but it's a solid contribution to the thrashy power metal community. The only gripe I have is that Soothsayer is just an EP. Hopefully a full-length is looming in the near future.
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