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HELL FIRE

Hell Fire

Reckoning

    Sometimes a band grows so exponentially from one record to the next, it’s almost jarring. Hell Fire has already established themselves as the preeminent masters of a new hybrid breed of Bay Area thrash and NWOBHM in just a few short years, but their fourth album Reckoning is the type of ascendance that truly sets a band apart.

    Reckoning is their Master of Puppets, their Number of The Beast, their Defenders Of The Faith. From the very first notes of the album opening title track, you can feel a vital new energy and inspiration to their music. To say Hell Fire used the recent global downtime to dig within and fully refine their sound would be an understatement. It truly is a reckoning.

    “This album is every aspect of our band amplified to its maximum potential,” says singer/guitarist Jake Nunn. “This is the record we've always wanted to make, and it feels like we're just getting started,” guitarist Tony Campos adds. “We wanted to push ourselves musically and capture some of our frustrations, anger, loneliness, and rage over being locked inside and dealing with life during a global pandemic in the days when no one really knew how to navigate,” says drummer Mike Smith.

    With no touring on the horizon in 2020, the band hunkered down and recorded nearly a full album in preproduction home demos. “I set up a little studio in my garage to record guitar, bass, and vocal tracks,” Campos says. “While Mike bought an electronic drum set and we demoed every song so we were more prepared going into the studio.” Each of them found themselves practicing more on their own and ironing out every last detail and nuance before finally being able to once again play in a room together.

    The band’s heightened professionalism also brings in guest bassist Matt Freeman (of Rancid and Operation Ivy fame) on the album after original bassist Herman Bandala departed the band amicably during the initial writing process. New bassist Kai Sun joined Hell Fire in Fall 2021. Reckoning was recorded and mixed at Atomic Studios in Oakland, CA with Chris Dugan.

    The title track kicks things off with a slight nod to the layered melodies of acoustic and harmonized guitars of Metallica’s “Battery” before the band rips into its signature galloping guitar picks, soaring harmonies and blistering rhythms. It’s an anthem and a gauntlet thrown down with Nunn’s shimmering screams and guttural howls while dueling guitar solos and Smith’s relentless double bass drum shuffle bring home the point that Hell Fire is born anew. “Medieval Cowboys” hearkens to the epic attack of Iron Maiden’s Powerslave with glistening melodies and complexly interwoven musical shifts that showcase exactly how tight and precise the band has become. “Addicted To Violence” is blistering thrash and “Thrill Of The Chase” soars with rich harmonies while both songs lyrically reflect hard truths the band faced in isolation. The lush acoustic based ballad “A Dying Moon” shows the band effortlessly stretching out in new directions. “It Ends Tonight” is an epic anthem served as a mission statement to the band’s return wherein arpeggiated riffs, squealing pinch harmonics, group chant vocals and Smith’s octopus-armed beats will have legions raising their fists in the air in salute.

    “It’s somehow the heaviest and most melodic work we’ve done, and I’m proud of the discipline it took,” Nunn says. “It’s a wild thing.”

    TRACK LISTING

    01. Reckoning
    02. Medieval Cowboys
    03. It Ends Tonight
    04. Thrill Of The Chase
    05. Addicted To Violence
    06. Tortuga Nights
    07. Eye For An Eye
    08. Many Worlds
    09. Nowhere Fast
    10. A Dying Moon
    11. The Executioner

    Hell Fire

    Mania

      The free-wheelin’ creativity and infectious vitality of the 80s Bay Area thrash scene is a moment forever locked in time, but its spirit lives on in the galloping guitar picks, soaring harmonies and blistering rhythms of San Francisco quartet Hell Fire. The band’s perfect hybrid of NWOBHM theatrics and American thrash attitude delivers a rousing and genuine expansion on sounds long lost to pointless battles over who can be the most “extreme.”

      Mania, Hell Fire’s third album and proper debut on RidingEasy Records (the label also reissued the band’s sophomore album, Free Again for the first time on vinyl in January 2019) warmly condenses elements of influences like Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Exodus, Metallica, Riot, Virtue and Diamond Head into 10 tracks of headbanging MUYA anthems.
      “Thematically, everything on the album comes from personal experiences,” says vocalist/guitarist Jake Nunn. “From the highs of partying together out here in Oakland, or the nostalgia of being a kid learning Zeppelin on a beat up guitar, to the extreme lows of isolation, personal trauma, and mental illness. Sonically we want our records to sound like you're standing in front of the stage at a show. The power of Marshall stacks in front of your face, drums at your ear level, thunder of the bass and feeling the presence of the room.”

      Hell Fire achieves just that — and then some — on Mania. The album was recorded in Grass Valley, California at engineer Tim Green’s Louder Studios. Having also recorded their previous album with Green, the sessions proved highly productive for the band since they were already familiar with the setting and able to expand upon ideas they hadn’t been able to explore previously.
      “We’re more excited about Mania then anything we’ve ever done,” Nunn says. “We were able to spend a bit more time arranging the songs and writing from a more personal perspective lyrically. We came out of this recording feeling much more accomplished with our performances and couldn't be more happy for this to be our first release with RidingEasy Records.”
      Hell Fire began when bass player Herman Bandala moved to San Francisco from Tijuana, Mexico with the hopes of forming a heavy metal band. Herman posted an ad to Craigslist which caught the attention of guitarist Tony Campos. They bonded over a mutual love of 80s thrash and NWOBHM, which was a hard thing to find in the Bay Area scene at the time. The lineup slowly morphed over time, finally solidifying with vocalist Jake Nunn also taking up second guitar duties and drummer Mike Smith joining prior to 2017’s Free Again.

      TRACK LISTING

      01. Warpath
      02. Mania
      03. On The Loose
      04. Born To Burn
      05. Transcending Evil 06. Lashing Out
      07. Isolator
      08. The Dreamer
      09. Knights Of The Holy
      10. Masochist

      Hell Fire

      Free Again

        Formed in recent years in San Francisco, though it may seem more likely that they hatched fresh out of a time travel portal from the mid-80s Bay Area thrash scene, Hell Fire have the classic look and sound of modern metal’s halcyon days. Hell Fire’s sonic assault warmly condenses elements of influences like Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Exodus, Metallica, Riot, Virtue and Diamond Head into 8 tracks of headbanging MUYA anthems.

        The free-wheelin’ creativity and infectious vitality of Bay Area thrash is a moment forever locked in time, but its spirit lives on in Hell Fire’s galloping guitar picks, soaring harmonies and blistering rhythms. The band’s perfect hybrid of NWOBHM theatrics and American thrash attitude delivers a rousing and genuine expansion on sounds long lost to pointless battles over who can be the most “extreme.”

        Hell Fire began when bass player Herman Bandala moved to San Francisco from Tijuana, Mexico with the hopes of forming a heavy metal band. Herman posted an ad to Craigslist which caught the attention of guitarist Tony Campos. They bonded over a mutual love of 80s thrash and NWOBHM, which was a hard thing to find in the Bay Area scene at the time. Just before Hell Fire entered the studio to record their debut album Metal Masses, Jake Nunn joined on vocals. The lineup continued to develop over time, finally solidifying with Nunn also taking up second guitar duties and drummer Mike Smith joining prior to recording Free Again.

        Hell Fire’s 2017 sophomore album, Free Again is being released for the first time on vinyl and remastered for CD and download in January 2019. it was recorded over 5 days in Grass Valley, California at engineer Tim Green’s Louder Studios (The Fucking Champs, Melvins.) Where Metal Masses showcased aesthetic nods to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All album (as well as a cover photo brilliantly depicting a blurry hand speedily playing a Flying-V guitar), Free Again finds the band coming into their own with emphasis upon grooves, a beefier sound and tighter songs that expertly shift into new parts at the drop of a hat.

        Opener “Free Again” kicks things right off with a galloping riff forming out of a haze of feedback as the tape machine comes up to speed. The anthemic chorus showcases Nunn’s powerful voice as twin guitar harmonies lead into a thundering double-time coda reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “Aces High.” Elsewhere, a marching snare drum beat and totemic blasts set up dueling guitar leads of “City Ablaze” while dizzying, chugging 16th-note guitars drive the blistering “Live Forever” into oblivion. “Wheels of Fate” and “The Dealer” echo the groove based tunes and harmonies of Rainbow and Gary Moore era Thin Lizzy. Album closer “End of Days” is a chorus effect drenched ballad that builds into a crushing lament over the constant beckoning of depression and the struggle for freedom and clarity. It’s a touching and powerful closing to an album that traverses many moods and packs in more great parts into a single song than most thrash bands do on an entire album. 

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Free Again
        2. City Ablaze
        3. Live Forever
        4. Wheels Of Fate
        5. Beyond Nightmares
        6. The Dealer
        7. Destroyers
        8. End Of Days


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