HellgardeN – Making Noise, Living Fast Review

I’ve spent the last week listening to nothing but Pantera. I’ve even gone back to enjoy the well-written Pantera YMIO articles from our own Dr. Fisting (The Great Southern Trendkill) and L. Saunders (Far Beyond Driven). And, for all the shit that happened inside and outside of the band, I love these guys. Dime’s untouchable riffs and solos, Vinnie’s one-of-a-kind kit work, Phil’s forceful presence, and Rex (somehow) pulling it all together. Pantera was a unique beast that survived and grew more popular with their thrashing musical shift with Cowboys from Hell. And, if the local radio station has anything to say about it, they’re still popular enough to throw at least six tracks into the weekday morning mix. But why the lengthy Pantera introduction when this is clearly not a YMIO piece? Because Brazil’s HellgardeN is the closest thing to Pantera’s reincarnation you’ll ever hear.

I know what you’re thinking: Brazil, thrash, Sepultura. Nope, not HellgardeN or their debut record, Making Noise, Living Fast. While there’re other ’80s thrash elements throughout the debut, they’re dominated by early-day Metallica, rather than Sepultura. And, if a riff or vocal arrangement isn’t taken straight from Vulgar Display of Power or Far Beyond Driven, it’s grooved-out from another purveyor of the Pantera sound: Throwdown. No one likes a copycat. But if you miss Pantera and think you’ll enjoy a record designed to make you trash a hotel room and consume dangerous amounts of Jägermeister, then. buckle. the. fuck. up.

“Brainwash,” “Learned to Play Dirty,” and “Believe in Yourself or Die” are the most reminiscent of the Pantera sound. The opening riffs of the middle trick feel like a combination of …And Justice For All-era Metallica merged with Pantera. It’s a ferocious little thing that has all the hate of Phil and many-o lively guitar-solo-backed-by-nothing-but-bass. And, when the end arrives, it unleashes a lick straight from “Five Minutes Alone.” “Believe in Yourself or Die”1 is a stomper of a song. The solos, the leads, the bass work, and especially the closing riff, are more Vulgar-esque than any other track on the album. But “Brainwash” is a layered cake of thrash metal intensity. Starting and stopping, the song ditches riffs and builds for others, each time growing with more ferocity. Though cutting the finale of the song would have helped its six-minute runtime, this oddball piece still gets the job done.

While the tracks above can’t compete against Pantera’s best, they are still the gems of Making Noise, Living Fast. Joining them would be the fiery, short-and-sweet opener and closer of the album. “Spit on Hypocrisy” is nothing special but it prepares you for the healthy dose of Texas toast to come. On the other hand, the closer comes off more like a classic Metallica album concluder. It has more bite than the album’s other bookend and closes the album in old-school thrash metal fashion.2

As for filler, “Evolution or Destruction” and “Fuck the Consequences” take the title. The former follows “Spit on Hypocrisy” a bit too tightly—coming off as more of a riff change than a full-blown song. And the two-and-a-half-minute “Fuck the Consequences” isn’t memorable enough for its short lifespan. It comes and goes with each listen of the disc and, each time, I hardly realize it was there. Negatives aside, this record is a hell of a good time if you are a fan of Dime and gang. The vocals and guitar work are nostalgic and the bass is as audible as Rex every was. Making Noise, Living Fast won’t be winning any awards for originality but it does a damn good job of keeping the style alive.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Brutal Records
Website: facebook.com/officialhellgarden
Releases Worldwide: April 10th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Inspirational?
  2. Is anyone else getting tired of the epic, drawn-out trash closers?
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