Friday, May 25, 2012

Hellwell-Beyond the Boundaries of Sin

High Roller Records

Hellwell (which is named after Manilla Road keyboardist/bassist E.C. Hellwell) is a new side-project of Manilla Road guitarist/vocalist Mark "The Shark" Shelton. In addition to Mark Shelton and E.C. Hellwell (who played bass and provided vocals on the 2011 Manilla Road LP, "Playground of the Damned") the album also features Jonny Thumper Benson (drums, guitar,bass) and has special appearances by Bryan Hellroadie Patrick and Josh Castillo from Manilla Road. Now, rather then try to explain the concept behind the album I'll just let the promo speak for itself (start here!):

"Beyond the Boundaries of Sin" has much to do with literature and a certain E.C. Hellwell. Mark explains the whole concept of the album: “Side one of the album is just a collection of songs but side two is a complete concept based on the short story 'Acheronomicon' which was written by E.C. Hellwell. He has not been published until now but he has a few other stories that Manilla Road has based songs on before like 'The Riddle Master' and 'Cage of Mirrors'. E.C. came into my life when I was in school way back when and has been a fairly big influence on my philosophical approach to horror. Side two of the album is a trilogy concept that is based on this apocalyptic tale that Ernie came up with not long ago. After reading it I knew that I must put it to music.”The story itself does have some H.P Lovecraft traces. The Shark agrees: “Yes, I would say there are traces of Lovecraft in the story. There are maybe even more traces of Robert E. Howard in it. E.C. has a style that is based out of Poe, Lovecraft and Howard but it is a bit of a style of his own also. He tends to like to do first person stories instead of narratives. Although I read a part of a novel he was working on at one point and it was a narrative style filled with lots of action. I don't think he ever finished it though. I should ask him about that one. E.C. has lots of stuff that he should try and get published.” (end here!)

So, there you have it. We're looking at a concept album here. The track list looks like this:
1 The Strange Case of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
2 Eaters of the Dead
3 Keepers of the Devils Inn
4 Deadly Nightshade
5 Tomb of the Unnamed One
6 The Heart of Ahriman
7 End of Days

How does it compare to Manilla Road? That is a hard question to answer. With Manilla Road your talking about epic/traditional heavy metal. They are no doubt a classic band. With Hellwell you get a slightly weirder Mailla Road with a heavy dose of keyboard/synthesizer added on. Again I'll head back to the promo as I like what Mark Shelton had to say about the band. When he was asked to describe the project he said "To Manilla Road fans I would say it's like Manilla Road's evil twin". That does fit the description rather well. The music is slightly creepy and bizarre while still retaining that familiar Manilla Road feel. He went on to say "To outsiders that don't know Manilla Road I would say it is like a cross between Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, early Metallica and Manilla Road. Still had to throw the Road in there, ha, ha." I like that and you can really hear the Deep Purple and Uriah Heep influences. I'd say there was some Iron Butterfly, Rainbow and B.O.C. thrown in there as well. It's one of those albums that works as a side-project because it takes the familiar (Manilla Road) and tweaks it (heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers) meaning it will appeal to old fans as well as new people who are out looking for something different to try. Overall the album has a rather eerie feeling with the heavy use of horror elements adding to the dark and creepy feeling. This is just a fun listen start to finish. Hopefully this isn't the last we hear of Hellwell.

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Blogger Andy said...

The more I listen to the album I also pick up some Hawkwind. Just a strange album and yet rather good...

11:53 AM  

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