HELLSMOKE – 2020 (2020)
Rooted in Sweden and Denmark, HELLSMOKE releases their debut album tiled “2020“. Hellsmoke’s gasoline-infused kick ass hard rock was created by guitarist Christofer Dahlman (ex ALYSON AVENUE, BAI BANG) and songwriter Torbjörn Mansson, which teamed up with their longtime friend and drummer Roger Landin (ex CLOUDSCAPE). At the beginning of the recordings for the album “2020”, singer Rimbert Vahlström (ex SYRON VANES) joined the band with his incomparable voice.
Their explosive mix laid the foundation for the band’s current sound: hard guitars, pounding drums and sophisticated melodies in a true Scandinavian style.
The band s latest additions, Jörgen Löfberg on bass (DARKANE) and Michael Åkesson (ALICATE) on guitars, provide that extra edge that separates HELLSMOKE from other bands.
True to the long-standing Scandi tradition of Hard Rock, the band goes heavy on wide and dense vocal harmonies and sing-along melodic choruses. The production is absolutely brilliant and huge sounding, courtesy of co-producer Anders Hahne and the band themselves sharing production credits.
As example, the bass sound is spectacular, acting as the perfect glue between drums and guitar. The guitars’ tone is heavy but in-your-face, and the solos are spot-on without indulging in needless noodling. The drums pound hard, loud, and proud.
The opening track “Devil’s Train” is a perfect introduction to ‘2020’, showing all the best aspects of Hellsmoke’s music. “Black Sun Rising” introduces more variety, adding some progressive influences to the mix while doubling down on the heavy riffs.
“Rest When You’re Dead” opens with gang vocals, later devolving into a riff with a dark vibe, only to deliver a melodic chorus with a vocal harmony that would be no stranger in an Extreme album.
The midtempo groove “Nowhereland” ventures again into a little progressive territory, however the main riff is classic. Other highlight tracks include the angry “Raise Your Fist”, with the best sing-along chorus in ”2020” and one of the most interesting bridges on the record; “Bad Motorbreath,” probably the closest you will find Hellsmoke crossing into Hair Metal territory with its more Van Halen-esque riffs that still keep the throttle all the way down.
Album closer “Nitro Woman” corks it with a bang, with hot vocals, melting strings (guitar/bass) and crushing drumming.
Hellsmoke has delivered in ”2020” one of the most solid – and fun – Hard Rock / Metal records of this year. Ironically, it makes for the perfect soundtrack to a road trip in the year of lockdown and quarantine.
We recommend ”2020” wholeheartedly to anyone who favors fun in their music, melodic choruses, and heavy riffs. A very well-produced disc with lots of balls, so to speak. No ballads here, just upbeat rockin’ stuff in the vein of PRETTY MAIDS, with a little more edge here and there.
01 – Devils Train
02 – Black Sun Rising
03 – Rest When You’re Dead
04 – Nowhereland
05 – Hellcome to the Badland
06 – Raise Your Fist
07 – Hell Adrenaline
08 – Common Man
09 – Bad Motor Breath
10 – Nitro Woman
Rimbert Vahlström – vocals
Christofer Dahlman – guitars
Michael Åkesson – guitars
Roger Landin – drums
Jörgen Löfberg – bass