At the start of the year Italian band Hellfox has released their first full-length album The Call via local label Music for the Masses, specializing in hard rock and metal. Well, in simple terms, The Call is a debut album for this young three-year old band, hailing us from sunny Lombardy. So, let’s try do define their first professional musical steps as a full-fledged band.
The curious fact is that Hellfox is all-female band, and albeit nowadays the gender in metal community isn’t such a controversial topic, still these all-female bands are rather a rare phenomenon. But now we can forget about the genders, unjust inequality and old patriarchal close-mindedness and focus our ears on the music itself. Now let me get one thing straight, this isn’t typical symphonic/heavy/power band or pop/alternative-oriented metal. Hellfox stylistically incline towards melodic death metal with dark/gothic background with some recognizable heavy metal clichés. They also don’t hesitate to add some almost pop-inspired catchiness, but just for a short while, because core of their music is still very metal. And let’s not forget the mournful backdrop chasing away optimistic sentiments and mischievous swings that float up from time to time to dilute the gothic seriousness and grim solemnity.
The synths are responsible for the mysterious gothic aura, but this perception doesn’t sound dramatically gloomy or sickly sweet. Of course even Hellfox could not avoid some casual flirtations with traditional symphonic metal (“Your Name”), but the main accent is still directed towards melodic death side (but there’s not much death metal), so everything is buried under transparent veil of soothing melodies. And regarding the synthetic parts, there’s a big reference to classic gothic rock from the 80s (especially significant through the second song “Our Lady of Sorrows”). And it’s a big win; these old school vibes have brought some kind of refinement and pertinent novelty to modern sound. “Nothing really ends” invites us to reflect on our softer side, this ballad with nostalgic notes and romantic hints can really bring some pensive contemplation. On the other hand, “Bleeding Machine” is considerably more straightforward with heavy metal riffs and emotional background.
But the best parts unsurprisingly belong to the singing lines! The classical, expressive and rich clean voice of Greta Antico versus extreme, emotional and frantic voice of Priscilla Poe (who is also a bass player in the band), that is indeed a lush palette of feelings. And while Greta expresses herself through professional training with restrained and precise singing, Greta reminds us about the heaviest parts, it’s still fucking mdm, and ain’t your classical operas for sophisticated sissies. And these voice battles aren’t performed in favoured beauty and the beast style; these two perfectly complement each other in a most natural way. The last composition “Dead Star” (remastered version of their single released two years ago) is an epitome of this connection and contrast of two voices, ironically destroying the stereotype about masculine versus feminine.
Hellfox is very energetic and vigorous live band, and no wonder, this kind of music through the records is a little too static and toneless, meanwhile the stage revives the spirit of music with hefty flourish. This band really has infernal passion, and even if we see on the cover art of The Call a confident and animal-loving witch, these girls are real foxes, who know how to ignite their audience with hellish fire.
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