Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
It was almost two years ago that one of Virginia’s brashest representatives of heavier-than-thou underground music, Lord, called it a day.
It was indeed a sad occurrence, as the band and their recorded output had developed a wide following of fans. However, no one said they were done with music altogether (or did they?). If by chance they did, I didn’t hear them. That said, we know for certain that one of the guys, guitarist Will Rivera, has since resurfaced in not one, but TWO separate band entities. One of them is Spiral Grave, where he has joined with the three surviving members of Maryland doom icons Iron Man.
While that is all good and well, we assemble here today in the name of Rivera’s other band, for if there were ever a time that was so right for them, it is now. In name, album title, and said album’s sonic contents, studio-only band HOPEKILLER and their full-length début, ‘Children Of A Dead Future‘, may just be the soundtrack to the Apocalypse. Released in September of 2019, the eight-song studio offering sees guitarist and bassist Will Rivera alongside his brother, lead vocalist Wilsen Rivera, (ex-Kaemon), and drummer Tommy Emanuel of Skaldr and Lord.
The apocalyptic bit I just referenced was no mere facetious quip either, friends; for it is March 2020, and Coronavirus has come to planet Earth. By all accounts, the infectious disease is just getting started, much in the same way that HOPEKILLER is. HOPEKILLER could easily kill all hope itself… and leave you illin’.
What we have here is a highly caustic, downright volatile concoction of crossover thrash metal, crust, and hardcore punk. Much like a beaker filled to the brim with life-stealing pathogens, breaking the seal on this album begins with the oh-so aptly titled “The Blind Leading The Blind“. With its title taken right out of the modern age headlines, the trio set the bar rather high to begin with as this grindcore ‘n groove assault do exactly that… grind, groove, assault.
Stop your sniveling, for our virulent audio-bodies and their plague-bearing instruments inquire “When Is It My Turn?” Right damned now, you three, c’mon and bring the noise! A minimalist start-up quickly escalates to a moshpit launching flurry of rapid-fire drumming and machine-gun riffing. That all comes with an unexpected twist or two, like the quite Overkill-like “Whooaaa-oooaaa-aaa” gang choruses around the mid-section of the song.
This is a good time to point out that one should easily discern the HOPEKILLER ability to wear their influences openly and without shame or apology. Be it the chugging, Agnostic Front fury of “Push For Change” or the D.R.I.-y “DIY“, these guys open themselves up and just want to be loved. Is that really too much to ask, because if it is, they let you know “I Can Fight“.
Well, Buster, I can, too – but for Satan’s sake, isn’t the HOPEKILLER home base of ol’ Virginny for lovers? Besides, there is no fighting this hook-in-jaw, hammer-to-the-head number. “I Can Fight” was quick to become one of my favorites from this trio of troubling tuneage, but it was not alone. No, really… it wasn’t, for the follow-up cut “Casting Stars” is just as equally engrossing. With its mid-tempo charge of churning guitar discharges and a rhythmic barrage akin to a battering ram, it makes for an ideal ride beneath the barked vocals.
Not to be outdone nor outshined, the album-closing abomination “Walking Colossus” is a giant unholiness for the ages (or what’s left of them). With a vibe of monstrous malevolence, this number renders threatening emanations amid its muddy Anthrax-meets-Carnivore music and vocals. Especially sinister are the breakdown passages of downtuned empowerment with the simple, and spoken, “Walking Colossus, Walking Colossus…” as it walks all over you.
This is able-bodied aggression set to sound, with the means to trample all under hoof, and I don’t mean just this last track. No, I mean every minute, moment, and second, that is the ‘Children Of A Dead Future‘ album from HOPEKILLER. As alluded to earlier on, this is an ideal last-day-alive listening event in and of itself but don’t wait until then to do so… unless, of course, that’s right now. Hmmm… it may be the end of the world as we know it.