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One of Britainís best kept secrets from the NWOBHM era has laid dormant for twenty five years but Hell is about to be unleashed upon the world once again with the second coming of this rejuvenated metal beast. For the uneducated, Hell existed between 1981 and 1987 and split following the suicide of frontman Dave Halliday, a year after the band inked their first deal with Mausoleum Records, just before the label collapsed. Never flourishing in terms of success, popularity or critical recognition in their day, Hell were unlike any other band spawned by the NWOBHM scene; with a more forward-thinking, progressive mentality towards their art, they were indubitably a band ahead of their time. Likewise, they inspired Andy Sneap and Martin Walkyier to form Sabbat, themselves an innovative British metal force that had a unique compositional approach within the thrash genre they became associated with. Wind forward twenty five years and Hell have returned with a set of re-recorded songs from their back catalogue on brand new album ĎHuman Remainsí, their debut album in fact, and a deal with Nuclear Blast. In fact, it was first announced around three years ago that Hell had reformed and intended to release newly recorded versions of material that only ever existed in demo form previous to now, to be produced by Sneap himself, probably the bandís biggest fan. And Sneap had also joined the band alongside original axeman Kev Bower, rather apt considering Halliday taught the famed producer to play guitar in his teens. Together with other original members Tony Speakman and Tim Bowler, and the newly recruited frontman David Bower, brother of Kev, Hell have created an album of both retro and contemporary significance. Retro because some of the material, by default, pertains to an 80s metal aesthetic but also contemporary due to the expected high quality production/mixing/mastering at the hand of Sneap which gives the material a nicely polished, albeit still organic, modern sound. Beyond that, itís a genuine surprise how fresh the songs sound considering they were written so long ago Ė no doubt a mark of how innovative Hell were for their day. Sure, the music has retro underpinnings all the way through but Hellís blend of styles including influences of Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate and Rush, together with some atmospheric and lengthy keyboard-based interludes, is both original and fresh. And it's sonic melodrama all the way through - in one sense, one could construe such a vibe as over-the-top, but it's such grandiose histrionics that epitomise the essence of the metal genre and certainly what metal of yore prided itself on. Hell have struck a fine balance between the theatrical and the kick-ass impetus at the core of each track's heavy riffage, so the grandiose elements never come across as ostentatious. The theatrical underpinnings are enhanced by new vocalist David, an actor by trade in theatre and various British TV soaps/dramas. Not new to singing in a band context it is, however, the first time he's sung metal in such a manner but the man's a natural and with an impressive range in his voice to boot. His vocal performance is quite incredible, doing a fine job at enhancing the melodrama inherent in the music and Hell's dynamic in general. Awesome songs, skilfully executed, expertly produced and mixed, and with great cover art, 'Human Remains' really is the whole package. I mean, even the fucking playing time is sixty six minutes and six seconds long! What more could you want?! Go buy now!
Nuclear Blast
Review by Mark Holmes
13th May 2011
1) Overture Themes From Deathsquad
2) On Earth As It Is In Hell
3) Plague and Fyre
4) The Oppressors
5) Blasphemy and the Master
6) Let Battle Commence
7) The Devils Deadly Weapon
8) The Quest
9) Macbeth
10) Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us
11) No Martyrs Cage
"One of Britainís best kept secrets from the NWOBHM era has laid dormant for twenty five years but Hell is about to be unleashed upon the world once again with the second coming of this rejuvenated metal beast."