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Track By Tracks: Hellevate - Krampusnacht (2019)

1. Krampusnacht:

The idea for this song came to us suddenly at a practice one evening. The main riff of the song was composed by our bassist, Zack the Ripper. He showed it to us and the idea just came. Sometimes a riff immediately tells you what sort of song it should be for, and you have to follow it's lead. We composed a few other bits and pieces but for a while it lay in it's component parts, waiting to be put together. I frequently end up assembling riffs that we have sitting around and turning them into songs, and that's what happened with this one. The pre-chorus was actually the hardest part to write! I took an idea we came up with in practice but it didn't end up working out, so I then spent hours writing new riffs, experimenting with tempos and transitions trying to get it seamless. After all of that effort, I ended up just taking the chord progression from the intro and slotting it in, where it fit perfectly. If only I had figured it out sooner!

The song was initially meant to fade out with the outro riff. We were working on a live version of it, and during one rehearsal Dan suddenly threw down a version of the outro solo on the fly. From that moment on we knew we had to totally rework it to make that solo fit in. The feedback, as well as the slurred version of Jingle Bells, came with later playthroughs. Dan and I spent a while tracking that part of the end while reamping the EP we're releasing later in 2020. For reference, this "Krampusnacht" single/mini-EP was released as a holiday track, but we have 5 more songs on a proper EP we're still working on.

Erik wrote the lyrics to this tune. He really likes telling stories with his songs, and this tune is no exception. It starts as a depiction of the common Krampus myth, but slowly morphs into a story of a kid who gets taken by Krampus. The song ends with the child being turned into one of Santa's helpers. He's made unable to feel cold, unable to age, and unable to die. His existence is to make toys for good children forever. Some Christmas cheer for you!

2. If You Want Peace...:

This song is just an intro for the next track, Prepare for War. They're both re-recordings of the songs from our debut album. I wasn't in the band at the time, but I joined when it was their most recent release. Prepare for War was one of the songs I was asked to learn and one of my favorites from that album. We had been jamming it a lot in 2018 and 2019, and we decided to go back and re-record it. That first album had a bit of a rough production, and I've always wanted versions of some of the songs with proper production.

Anyway, to get back to this track, we felt we had to redo this one as well if we were gonna do Prepare for War. The spoken-word part is I believe original. I could be wrong but I don't think so. The backing is the same as in the original, just mixed differently. The spoken-word part was obviously rerecorded with Erik. He brought a more demented and evil feel to it; the original had more of an "angry sergeant" vibe to it.

3. Prepare for War:

This is again, a re-recording of the 2012 track. It's one of the first songs Hellevate ever composed, Dan wrote it when he was around 14. Musically it's pretty much unchanged from the original. We didn't want to do very much different, and I believe that even the solo is pretty much the same as the original. The vocals are where we really branched out. Erik has got some pipes on him and we've been going for a really "over-produced" vibe on this EP. In the control room of my studio, I've got a print-out of Mutt Lange, and whenever we're unsure of what to do, we look to it and say, "what would Mutt do?" A bit odd for a band so thrashy to do, but it was a conscious decision on my part to add a bit of pop sheen wherever I could get away with it. I listen to a lot of 80s pop music, stuff like Def Leppard, Huey Lewis, Hall & Oates, Van Hagar, etc. and I'm always in awe of the production and how the vocal layering adds so much intensity and emotion to the songs. It's something I feel is missing from a lot of metal. (I feel like I've seriously outed myself as a poser here, haha).

Everything vocally is double-tracked, sometimes more. In the chorus, we added a bunch of harmonies, which is the first time Hellevate has ever really done anything like that. We've been slowly inching ourselves towards that front for a while. With our previous singer, Drew, we were experimenting a lot with power metal melodicism and he himself was interested in expanding his horizons vocally. With our current singer, Erik, we were catapulted a lot further forward in that direction.

We were going for a Blind Guardian crossed with Def Leppard vibe. Erik's girlfriend is a classically trained vocalist and is fantastic at coming up with harmonies on the fly. She helped us compose the harmonies and tracked some herself. Erik did the lower parts, and I doubled him up. My girlfriend is also a great vocalist and doubled the higher parts. I also added in a ton of tracks whispered to add that "Photograph" or "Love Bites" airiness. In total, I think there are about 40 layers in the harmony, which is only because I couldn't convince anybody to do more!

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