Sound: I've been listening to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) now for a good few years. I'd like to think of myself as somewhat knowledgeable on the genre of music (even if it was 15 years before my time). I've always liked Hell since listening to their "Save Us From Those Who Will Save Us" single, and listening to crackly 8th-generation demo tapes that never showed their true potential, I always believed they were well ahead of their time.
Hell were formed in the early 80s from the ashes of 2 bands Race Against Time and Paralex, after releasing a few demos and the aformented single their album deal fell through as their record company went bankrupt, and in 1987 lead singer/guitarist Dave Halliday tragically took his own life bringing the end to Hell.
Now, nearly 30 years after their demise Hell are back with all the remaining original members and the legendary Andy Sneap (Sabbat guitarist, Nevermore, Exodus and Megadeth producer) on guitar, with guitarist Kev Bower's brother David on vocals. // 9
Lyrics: It was sheer fate David Bower took over Dave Halliday on vocals, as originally Martin Walkyier (Sabbat) was to front the band, however Kev's brother came in the studio one day to do a sample and realising how good he was the band instantly replaced Martin. Being a trained actor and voiceover guy, David really brings out the theatrics in his vocals, replicating Halliday's vocal ticks and high pitch screams while adding his own twist on the music.
Lyrically, Hell deal with the occult, however unlike a lot of extreme bands they do not take themselves too seriously and you can tell they are having fun whilest praising Old Nick. There are a few comparisons people may have for Bower including King Diamond but in reality he has his own style, unbound by influences as don't forget, all of the material on this album was written between 1982 and 1986; power, occult and black metal were still in their infancy at this time. // 10
Overall Impression: What we have here is a total labour of love. Every riff, lyric, sound effect and solo has been crafted with utmost dedication. You just don't get albums like this and is a fitting tribute to Dave Halliday. From the "Deathsquad" intro to my personal favourite "Devil's Deadly Weapon" we have a demonic slice of metal that encompasses pretty much every sub-genre this side of black metal (and even then, Hell are credited as a driving force of the devil-bothering genre), from the power metal of "The Quest" to the doom-laden "No Martyrs Cage", they really do have a wide range to fit all metal fans' tastes coupled with legendary Andy Sneap's flawless production, you get a modern, yet familiar record.
Purists may scoff at such a slick record, but with the particular pack I bought you get a bonus CD of the original demos and recordings from back in the 80's and I have to say I'm glad I ordered this particular version of the album because those 8th-generation tapes that everyone and their dad has on MP3 are NOTHING compared to their master-taped glory here! If anything, if this album was released back in the 80s with these recordings, I still think it would've been a good album. I really, really hope Hell release all their demos with this quality in the future.
All in all, this has got to be one of the best metal albums of the year and I am looking forward to the bright future Hell has in store for them, may their long-awaited reign continue! // 10