Formed in Budapest, Hungary, THE HELLFREAKS are another seemingly horror-punk inspired outfit, consisting of vocalist Shakey Sue, guitarist Jozzy, bassist Domján Gabi and drummer Budai Béla, though they aren’t quite as tongue-in-cheek or gimmicky. Their own background simply stating that hell was “full” so they came back, but their original sound somewhat contradicts this at least in principle. Sure there were horror elements entwined within their lyricism, but as a generally psychobilly based band, I can’t so much as see them being denied entry to hell because HELL was too full, it’s more likely they were denied entry to an alternative club night for not having ID and exaggerated the story; embarrassed they couldn’t get served WKD. I mean there’s always room in hell for psychobilly!
I digress…over the years however they have adapted their sound to be more befitting of their name and claim, as 2020 finds them releasing their latest album “God On The Run”. With an angrier, seemingly more metallic approach to their writing, let’s see what the almighty father is fleeing…and does it explain the events of 2020 thus far? The album opens up with “Men In Grey” and you can immediately sense the increase in aggression compared to their debut…Sue’s vocals are coarse but retain a level of clarity and melody that drives the chorus hook home, all the while complimenting the more frenetic riff-work wonderfully. This is some enjoyable, up-tempo melodic alternative punk, and a solid start.
Recent single “Red Sky” then follows up and after a brief build we’re thrust into another dose of pacey, melodic alt. rock, combining pop sensibilities with a more vitriolic punk aesthetic…not too dissimilar to our opener but with ever so slightly less attitude; it’s cleaner with more harmony allowing for a generally smoother, easier listen without losing any bite. The rest of the album then in all fairness sticks to this formula pretty vehemently, fleeting between those same duel aggressive and arresting aspects of their song writing style. “Doldrum Dynasty” is another great example of a simplistic yet really effective chorus hook amidst edgier guitar elements, while “Adrenalized” uses soaring gang vocals and almost pop-punk riffs to great effect, before we eventually finish up on “Tabby”. The odd one out as the slowest paced piece here; it’s got a deeper, darker,pulsing synth underlying some predominantly grunge-influenced hard rock, but this change of pacing is a pleasant one. It’s nice to know that they CAN shake things up a little more at least.
Ultimately while “God On The Run” doesn’t explain the complete shit storm 2020 is turning out to be, what it has done is turned a psychobilly horror-rock band into a more straight up, alternative punk rock monster with a more sleek, serious tone and less of a niche appeal…which is saying something. The only thing going against it is its lack of real overall diversity; as it’s pretty much all systems go until track ten, and while the melodies are tight, it CAN sound a little samey. If you’re a fan of SUMO CYCO and NEW YEARS DAY…check out The Hellfreaks…if they let you in that is.