by Kris Handel
Hellrazor are a power trio out of Southwestern CT consisting of former Speedy Ortiz/Ovlov (and many others) drummer Michael Falcone, Kate Meizner, and Michael Henss, combining loud and dirty punk with a little bit of experimental thrown in for spice. Falcone writes deceiving melodies reminiscent of numerous 90’s era callbacks and emotional slack but with an extra bite from blurring guitar squeals or frenetic drum fills. The trio has a wit about them that is quite appealing and a sense of levity keeps everything from getting too deep into the encroaching gloom. These songs traverse territories that may bring you back to early-mid Green Day era punk to explosive shoegazing territory with a bit of panache and guile that will induce quite a bit of joy for the audience.
“Globbed” combines the pop chops of Buzzcocks with a Billie Joe Armstrong sneer from Falcone and fluctuating tempos played with an appropriate amount of fury and craft. Falcone’s drums pound and fly around his bouncing bass lines while chugging and spiky guitars careen around in a chaotic yet joyous fashion. “Landscaper” is a mix of slimy guitar crunching and rock solid bass and drums, provided once again by Falcone, that will remind you of any number of SST bands on this solid psych-garage homage. Falcone’s way with surprising melodies is once again apparent here as well as the propensity for a swirling and gnarled energy that explodes from the speakers.
“Party Slasher” and “All the Candy in the World” provide Heaven’s Gate with a couple of quirky deviations that provide a change of pace and allow everyone a bit of playful release. The former is full of tape splicing and other tricks of the trade with pulsing bass from Meizner surrounding altered guitar fills and chopped vocals, while the latter showcases Henss performing a bit of twisted industrial soundscaping sprinkled with skittering drums as well as altered and amusing mutterings. “Phantasm” combines a bit of the atmospheres of bands like Swervedriver, Hum, and Failure as Falcone’s guitar alternates between cloudy drifting and biting riffs that pierce through. Henss’ cymbals crash and shimmer laying the groundwork for Falcone to swoop around with his guitar and drawling vocals, slipping and sliding around the punchy harmonies.
Hellrazor have provided the audience with a record that carries a bit of heft with it yet will also produce moments of winking joy with an infectious enthusiasm. There are a bunch of curveballs thrown out here throughout the album and individual songs, yet the twist and turns will provide the listener with quite a bit of entertainment. Heaven’s Gate is a record that manages to keep one foot in the present while clearly looking back through the musical years with a grateful fondness and appreciation. Falcone and associates show off multiple facets of their musical approach and inspirations in a manner that is both disarming and welcomed, a journey through an off-kilter musical landscape.