• 9.2/10
    HELLSMOKE - 2020 - 9.2/10


Pride and Joy Music
Release date: October 16, 2020

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Gasoline Infused Hard Rock

If you’re looking for high-octane, gas-guzzling, hard pounding Hard Rock / Metal, Swedish quintet delivers it in spades. The brainchild of Christofer Dahlman (Bai Bang), Roger Landing (Cloudscape), and songwriter Torbjörn Månsson, the band is completed by Jörgen Löfberg on bass (Darkane), Michael Åkesson (Alicate) on guitars, and singer Rimbert Vahlström (Syron Vanes).

Hellsmoke’s sound takes the formula of modern Hair Metal acts like Crashdiet and Crazy Lixx, punches it in the face, replaces the makeup with tattoos, and creates something just as fun, only far heavier and muscular. Hellsmoke’s debut album 2020  is one of the high points of this wicked year.

Nitro-fueled Melodies, Heavy Riffs

Bands like Sixx: AM, Avenged Sevenfold, Black Label Society, Alter Bridge, Adrenaline Mob, Dream Evil, and Lordi all come to mind upon a first listen of 2020. The record contains 10 nitro-fueled Hard Rock anthems and makes no apologies for the mayhem it brings along. Heavy riffs are accompanied by vocals that are the perfect balance between aggressive and melodic, delivered with perfection by Rimbert, track after track.

True to the long-standing Swedish tradition of Hard Rock, the band goes heavy on wide and dense vocal harmonies and sing-along melodic choruses. The production is absolutely brilliant and huge sounding, courtesy of co-producer Anders Hahne and the band themselves sharing production credits. The bass sound is spectacular, acting as the perfect glue between drums and guitar. The guitars’ tone is heavy but in-your-face, and the solos are spot-on without indulging in needless noodling. The drums pound hard, loud, and proud.

2020 – Album Breakdown

The opening track “Devil’s Train” is a perfect introduction to 2020, showing all the best aspects of Hellsmoke’s music. “Black Sun Rising” introduces more variety, adding some Progressive influences to the mix while doubling down on the heavy riffs.

“Rest When You’re Dead” opens with gang vocals, later devolving into a riff that borrows from one Grunge-era one-hit-wonder group, only to deliver a melodic chorus with a vocal harmony that would be no stranger in an Extreme album.

The power ballad “Nowhereland” ventures again into Prog territory, combining Pink Floyd style choruses with heavy riffage worthy of being in a Tool album.

Other highlight tracks include the Guns ‘n Roses meets Pantera track “Raise Your Fist”, with the best sing-along chorus in 2020 and one of the most interesting bridges on the record; “Bad Motorbreath,” probably the closest you will find Hellsmoke crossing into Hair Metal territory with its more Van Halen-esque riffs that still keep the throttle all the way down.  Album closer and second single, “Nitro Woman” corks it with a bang.


Hellsmoke has delivered in 2020 one of the most fun Hard Rock and Metal records of this year. Ironically, it makes for the perfect soundtrack to a road trip in the year of lockdown and quarantine. For a sophomore release, we hope the band can deliver some more variety, improving on their already solid foundations laid down in 2020.

We recommend 2020 wholeheartedly to anyone who favors fun in their music, melodic choruses, and heavy riffs. Hellsmoke’s debut album is a must-have and guaranteed fun ride for any metalhead who’s not exclusive to the extreme side of the genre. Rock fans who don’t mind getting down and dirty with heavier music will also find here something to love.



Rimbert Vahlström – vocals
Christofer Dahlman – guitars
Roger Landin – drums
Jörgen Löfberg – bass
Michael Åkesson – guitars


  1. Devil’s Train
  2. Black Sun Rising
  3. Rest When You’re Dead
  4. Nowhereland
  5. Hellcome To The Badland
  6. Raise Your Fist
  7. Hell Adrenaline
  8. Common Man
  9. Bad Motorbreath
  10. Nitro Woman


  • Alex Reis

    Alex is a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, born and raised in Curitiba, PR, Brazil, yet living in Antwerp, Belgium, since 2010. AC/DC was his first intro to Rock and Metal, but Metallica and Iron Maiden were the turning point for his love of the genre. Alex has played the guitar since he was 14, and has been an aspiring musician ever since.  Also serving as lead guitarist and vocalist for Belgian/Brazilian Hard Rock outfit SSC, Alex and co. have released a single a few years ago, but are yet to follow with a full-length  release that's been 20 years in the works. When Alex is not writing for MER or making music, he works at the Belgian tech scene, having served as CTO and other technical roles in numerous startups and organizations.

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