TL; DR Haiku Review:
“loud and fast punkrock, with anthemic choruses, Nitro fans rejoice”
For this week’s dip into indie bands we have “Astoria” by the Hellfreaks. This album was released in 2016, but I recently stumbled upon them on Spotify.
The Hellfreaks come from Hungary but they are spiritually rooted in Southern California’s punk rock sound of the 90’s and 00’s. Fronted by Shakey Sue, the band describes themselves as a combination of “punk rock, psychobilly and metal.” However, at the risk of genre pigeon-holing them, I think you can call them a punk rock band that can play their instruments.
Not-so-careful listeners will hear a lot of early Davey Havok and AFI in Shakey Sue’s voice, intensity, and delivery. (That is a compliment, not a diss). Listen to “I’m Away” and try not to imagine Davey singing that chorus fifteen to twenty years ago. Not only that, but musically, the Hellfreaks would be at home on Nitro or FAT Records with plenty of catchy fast-paced riffs.
What makes this band a good, and quite frankly tolerable, listen (for those of us who have aged-out of pop-punk music for the most part) is the intensity of the vocals and the way they are integrated into the music. This band isn’t just some chords and a moody singer with a haircut. Also, despite their catchiness of their songs, the Hellfreaks have enough “edge” to stay away from sounding too much like the bands who ruined the genre years ago. In my opinion, “Burn the Horizon,” “I”m Away,” “Sid and Clyde,” and “Why do you talk” really stick out for their punk rock intensity and make me want to get back into a circle pit again.
The bottom line: you should definitely stream and/or download this album if you are a punk rock fan, and especially if you grew up with AFI and other California punk rock bands.
The Hellfreaks won’t be in the U.S. anytime soon, but check ’em out if you are in Germany or Hungary anytime soon.