One thing I found surprising about the latest from The Hellfreaks album, is that Pitch Black Sunset clocks in at a mere 28 minutes. It is the shortest of their 5 studio albums. But the length does not distract from the fact that Pitch Black Sunset is 28 minutes of sheer in your face and face melting metal and rock.
The album kicks off with the mostly instrumental piece, “Sunrise” and I’d like to say that it is a peaceful sunrise, but I’d be lying. Shaky Sue’s distinct vocals destroy any semblance of a peaceful sunrise and the thundering bass and drums from Gabi Domján and Béla Budai only indicate sonically that doom and perhaps destruction is on the horizon for the day.
There is something about the guitar riff at the beginning of “Old Tomorrow” that makes my brain think of “Celebrity Skin” by Hole, but once Shakey Sue’s clean vocals start, any thought of that flies out the window. Goddamn is “Old Tomorrow” catchy AF. The chorus is snappy and head bopping. The boys are glossy and slick in playing and the song has a very polished and shiny sound to it.
Then there is “Hit Me Where It Hurts”. Chucking all glossy, slick, and polished out the window, “Hit Me Where It Hurts” is brutal like a punch to the gut and while you’re bent over in pain, it knees you in the face. Of the song, the band says,
‘Hit Me Where It Hurts’ is about hope and despair. Hope is able to move mountains. But what if the desired dream stays a dream? Then hope turns to prison. Intoxicated by a desire that never comes true, we reach the dead end, where the brain clearly sees the way out, but our heart won’t let us make the necessary steps. All that’s left is suffering. This song is an invocation for the metaphorical punch to eliminate the last piece of false hope, the real culprit in such a situation.
What I like most about the song is Shake Sue’s vocals. Her ability to be vocally delicate and fragile and vocally monstrous and destructive shows the power of her voice and her ability to manipulate her instrument with ease.
On the song, “Chaos”, the band says,
It’s our own anthem about breaking free from daily repression and standing up for oneself. It embodies the moment of taking control of a difficult situation and not allowing yourself to be a victim anymore and highlights the belief that true peace and clarity can come from a place of disorder. So sit back, raise your fists and let it all go … because ‘Chaos’ is on the way!
Chaos isn’t on the way with the song. Chaos has arrived and is smashing everything in its reach and path. “Chaos” opens with some of the harshest vocals on the album and an all out aural assault from Béla on drums. Once Jozzy and Gabi join, the floodgates of hell truly open and the army of Hell is upon us. Jozzy’s frenetic guitar solo leaves the pit of your stomach churning. The song is pure chaotic anger.
The ballad-esque “Weeping Willow” is a moment of reprieve from the frenzy of the previous track. The band says this of the song,
The song addresses the doom and gloom of everyday life and tells a brutally honest story of a battle with inner demons.
The song is hauntingly beautiful and has the cleanest vocals of all the songs on the album, but it’s the harsh vocals towards the end of the song that shows the battle of the inner demon within that makes it twice as powerful than it would be with just all clean vocals.
“Body Bag” is pure rock and it’s the drum and bass duo of Béla and Gabi that steal the show in this song. They’re fast, furious, and heart pounding. “Body Bag” might be my favourite for this alone.
Jozzy takes the spotlight in “Rootless Soul Riot”. Like his mates in the song before, he is now the one that’s speeding down the guitar neck ‘highway’ at breakneck speed. There’s also a wonderful double kick drum beat that is soul crushing.
With “Pbss”, an abbreviation of the album Pitch Black Sunset, the band says this of the song,
The song is about thanatophobia, the fear of the death of a loved one and the common sense of impending doom. It is a longing for escape from the hardships of life, a plea to the heavens above for inner strength, but at the same a battle cry not to let this fear reign supreme. ‘PBSS’ is about the natural circle of life and mortality, something no one can avoid and all of us have to go through it in the end.
If I had to say a song was “sonically calm”, it would be “Pbss”. Don’t get me wrong, “Pbss” is quite heavy and intense, but it isn’t brimming with the same sense of unbridled energy as the other songs on the album. The mood and energy of “Pbss” feels controlled and restrained, which for me, makes the song feel constrictive and tight. In “Pbss” all four band members shine bright. Shakey Sue once again shows her amazing vocal range, Jozzy is annihilating the riffs on the guitar, and Béla and Gabi have the drum and bass rhythm that feels like it’s breathing life in one moment and taking it another.
Closing out Pitch Black Sunset is the final instrument piece, “Sunset”. We have all survived the journey that The Hellfreaks have given us and this song while not as doom and gloom as “Sunrise” indicates the day is done but the fight is not over. For now, rest is on the cards…
Pitch Black Sunset is a furiously fast, intense, and in your face and head album that is a refusal to give up. It is a declaration in standing against the dark and fighting for the light.
MUST LISTEN TRACKS: “Hit Me Where it Hurts”, “Body Bag”, “Pbss”, “Rootless Soul Riot”
FAVOURITE TRACKS: “Body Bag” “Pbss” “Weeping Willow”, “Old Tomorrow”
Watch “Weeping Willow”
Watch “Hit Me Where it Hurts”
Watch “Old Tomorrow”