Hemi : “Avalon” CD & Digital 13th February 2018 Independent Release.
Written by Brett Kihlmire
Coming from Chicago, Illinois, Hemi started out on the fence separating Hard Rock and heavy metal. They had a good formula on their debut with their EPs Undivided Intentions and the Motorhead tribute MotorHemi showed how hard these guys can rock as a trio while leaving fans yearning for new, original content. Their latest release Avalon is just what the fans demanded and pushes the band fully into the Heavy Metal arena.
While Avalon carries on where their EP Undivided Intentions left off and features the band’s founding bassist/singer Trent Zuberi and drummer Mike Cieplik, this is the first full length album to feature guitarist Tim Wilkens – though he was on both EPs. The addition of Wilkens is nothing short of a power play because Hemi came back swinging with a greatly expanded bag of tricks. No song sounds the same and the band is not afraid to blow your speakers.
One thing to note about this album is that Hemi kicks everything up a few notches with uncompromising attitude that blends elements of melodic Death Metal, Punk and old school Metal. The beats are fast and loud, the riffs surge and snarl and the solos scream out with complexity. As well, Zuberi shows real skill behind the microphone and the bass. While most bassists are drowned out in their recordings, you can hear every note alongside the drums and the guitar, and then there’s the vocals. Rather than take up the traditional growls of a modern metal band Zuberi continues with his old school Thrash Metal style reminiscent of Testament with Wilkins throwing in growls and snarls here and there for good measure. The fact that his vocals breathe fire but stay clear is a huge bonus for vocal-centric ears, especially because this album continues the story started on the debut.
While much of the album is fast and heavy, especially tracks like ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Re-Vengeance,’ they switch things up with the ballad ‘Avatar Averted.’ Devoid of vocals, this one stands alone and proud with an acoustic guitar alongside some sweet effects and an airy guitar solo. This late addition is a standout on the album that holds its own amongst its heavier brothers, especially the gnarly ‘The Final Deletion.’ One thing I have to say, this one really shows off the command Wilkins has over his fret board. Some of those solos will make your head spin!
A certifiable shred-fest of an album, Hemi pushes their personal boundaries with Avalon. Simply put, this album is one hell of a ride for heavy metal fans of all stripes. It’s got that old school thrash metal attitude mixed in with a modern sound marked by a varied taste in metal. There’s no doubt in this writer’s mind that these guys dig melodic Death Metal and Thrash, among other things, but they don’t wear their inspirations on their sleeves. Instead they blend it together and reconstruct it into a heavy metal package that we call Hemi. Honestly, my only complaint about this album is that’s only six tracks long! 9.5/10