Album review: Hell Freezes Over “Hellraiser”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Japanese heavy metal is not all about veteran bands. Hell Freezes Over is at the forefront of a younger generation of terrific Japanese metal bands. Now they are releasing their gloriously old-school sounding debut studio album, “Hellraiser”.

Five years after I saw this band live for the first time, when they opened for Evil Invaders and Unleash The Archers in Tokyo, the still young Japanese lads in Hell Freezes Over have finally their debut full-length studio album ready for release. They play an excellent cross of NWOBHM and thrash and speed metal with an early to mid-80s sound. That’s rather impressive as these lads were not even born then. Two years ago they released the splendid “Speed Metal Assault”, a four-track EP which featured some of the songs that are now included on this full-length album. The album kicks off at breakneck speed with the title track “Hellraiser” and continues with “Roadkill”, one of my favourite tracks on the album (think early Paul Di’Anno-fronted Iron Maiden). “Hawkeye” is another terrific fast and riff-happy track and so is the splendid “Overwhelm”. This is distinctly old-school heavy metal – the songs, the production, the performance, the visuals. These twenty-something Japanese musicians eat, dream and live 1980s heavy metal. They are inspired by both the American metal (Bay Area thrash metal) and British metal (NWOBHM). The ten-track album, which is overflowing with raw energy, closes with the terrific “Eternal March of Valor”, a splendid instrumental band jam clocking in at more than seven and a half minutes. What a great metal album these lads have put together. There is still hope for the future of Japanese heavy metal.

Hell Freezes Over’s album “Hellraiser” will be released on 26th August via Carnal Beast, a division of Japanese label Spiritual Beast.

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