Hillsvainkill is an “Acid-Psyche” rock band based in the town of Delano, California founded by vocalist/guitarist Paris Frias and sibling bassist/vocalist Marlyn Frias in late 2010. In 2011 the duo was joined by drummer Jose Gallegos leading to the release of their debut EP, “Mesmerize or Nothin’”. This was followed with some drastic role changing; Jose switched to playing lead guitar while not too long afterwards in 2013, Denmark Manalastras filled the vacant drumming seat, which lead to the release of the band’s second EP.
Now Hillsvainkill have evolved their project into their first full-length album “Adolescent” under OKTOHEART records. And it is just a phenomenal debut (full length) record for them. I have not heard any contemporary record that so strongly fits the psychedelic or acid rock vibe. That said I do not intend it as a compliment or complaint, just a statement of fact. The music is blues-rock-infected; the lyrics are plaintive, informed, and conscious. There is a depth of symbolism in some songs and a more overt meaning in others. And despite the fact that Hillsvainkill define their sound as ‘Modern Psychedelia’ or ‘Acidrock’, there is a lot more going on.
Hillsvainkill aren’t really outright psychedelia, acid-rock or blues. Instead, they pursue a ghostly, shamanic sound that is a sort of sizzling mishmash of all of the above. Sprawling and cycling guitars and the pumping bass are the most prominent instruments here, locked into kinetic riffs and adventurous progressions, twisted up in some very solid drums. The effect is hypnotic. Frias has the perfect voice for this hard, complex, but melodic music – he wails, growls, and murmurs seductively. The whole of the sound is very psychedelic, stripping away outer layers of emotions to reveal something much deeper and heavier.
“Adolescent” is one righteous album, the driving rhythms and melodic hooks get under your skin and won’t let go. With each listen it just gets better and better! Superb guitar treatments abound everywhere, and on each track; it’s what puts this album in a class of its own, making it very clear why the band so rightfully decided to prefer Jose Gallegos on the guitar. Together with Paris Frias, the two construct the very backbone on which these songs build upon.
Finally here is a band creating its own path and not following the music trend. Brooding, smoky and intense, “Adolescent” is a mesmerizing evocation of a purer rock era, which is evident from the minute they kick things off with the powerful “Mimic Child”. It’s fair to say that as far as my taste in vocalists go, I prefer character and evocative emotion over typical beauty and technical ability – on “Half Dead” and on most of the album – Paris Frias delivers all these qualities by the shovel loads.
“Save Me” is probably the most accessible track on the entire album, with its soaring vocals, grinding guitar riffs and thumping drums. Not to mention the superb twin guitar melodics. But there is so much more to love here, as the album carries you forward with an intoxicating obsession – “Goodbye Nevermind”, “Boy With His Head in the Sand”, “Everything (Inside of Me)”, “Will You Be My Heart” and “Bravado”. There’s a dynamic chemistry found in these songs which feels very warm, nurturing, inviting, and impressive, at times startling, fuzzed out, and breathtaking.
Have you ever had those moments when you put an album on and were just knocked out, totally blown away, and stunned at the greatness you were experiencing? It happens here with “Adolescent”!