Having been involved in radio and the music industry for over ten years now, there are certain assumptions I inevitably make when coming across an unsolicited piece of music by an unknown band. If I see that a band has made the unfortunate decision that Hellcake is a good band name and that they should pursue a successful career as a band with that name, some very specific imagery comes to mind. I would assume that any band calling themselves Hellcake would almost certainly have to be a group of late twenty-somethings who still live with their parents, haven't bought any new music in well over a decade, and play very warmed-over grunge or nu-metal. They've been making music for a while and think they're getting pretty good at this. Eventually they've saved up some money from their part-time fast food jobs, and they've gotten Discmakers or Oasis or somebody to press up a few hundred CDs of their five best songs. If they're feeling really ambitious, they'll hire Planetary to work this to college radio. Aside from their closest friends and family, nobody will hear this CD and they will have hundreds of copies of it rotting away in their closets until they inevitably throw them away years later.
Well, the fact that the actual band called Hellcake is releasing a tape on Skrot Up is probably a good indication that they aren't the band I'm expecting them to be. In other words, they're actually really good. "Rust" triumphantly busts out the gate in an overmodulated fury, reminiscent of Lightning Bolt or Godheadsilo but with a horror-movie synth replacing guitar. "Fat Dracula" follows, and is appropriately slow and sludgy, but no less terrifying. A third track, "Torn Fingernails," is listed but doesn't actually appear on the tape.
Flip it over and "Things Fall Apart" opens with a "Blade Runner" dialogue sample, before launching into some slower and more subdued, but still heavily distorted synths. The drums clobber away at an appropriate pace, but highlight the synth melody rather than drown it out. "Friends Become Enemies" ends the tape, starting with another dialogue sample and some Casio beats, before joining its brethren in righteous heavenward rockness.
So yes, it is possible for a band to be named Hellcake and not suck. Quite the opposite, in fact. May this band score the awesomest sci-fi/action movie ever made. 8/10 -- Paul Simpson (1 September, 2010)