HELLEVATE "The Purpose Is Cruelty"

LACERATED "The Vile Domain"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Time now to dip my toe in the ocean of the self-released, where one more often than not finds there is good reason for labels to avoid the band. But once in a while, one can find a treasure amid the driftwood.

Alas, Kansas City's HELLEVATE don't really make it into that category. Although these groove-thrashers have spunk to spare, their EP "The Purpose Is Cruelty" is a resolutely average release and the band sound like a veritable army of similar acts found nationwide. Although they invoke Bay Area thrash and even American power metal when describing their sound, they are much closer in style to the PANTERA and LAMB OF GOD wannabes crowding local juke joints on the weekend. There is a fierceness to their sound...heard most clearly on the raging "Die Or Be Killed"...but the overall approach is generic. Vocalist Robert Browne has a very awkward phrasing to his singing that just doesn't click, a trait clearly heard on the opening title track. While not a bad band per se, HELLEVATE just doesn't stand out from the pack much.

What HELLEVATE calls blazing thrash would wilt in front of an onslaught from Denver's LACERATED. This band also has nothing new to say, but their death metal fury is so cyclonic, it wipes out everything in front of it. This is American death metal in the style of MALEVOLENT CREATION and DYING FETUS, slamming all in sight. I could do without the exhausting drum clatter, but LACERATED do know what they're after and execute it pretty well. Where their EP succeeds is in the two middle songs, "Clone" and "Grotesque", where they toss in some crushing mid-paced riffs and let up a bit on the speed before returning for the final mayhem of "Rellik". I see the drummer is Ivan Alcala, who used to be in THROCULT...a band I haven't thought of in at least 20 years if not more. That dude must be dead serious about living a death metal life.

Both bands could still use a little work, but LACERATED could really go further in the extreme metal world.