Wednesday, November 13, 2013

N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday: Hell-The Age Of Nefarious (Single)

Nuclear Blast

When I first covered Nottingham, England's (re-formed) Hell back in March of 2011 I had no idea that their come-back album, "Human Remains", would be as good as it ended up being. Granted I did suspect that it would be pretty solid given how well their previous single, "Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us / On Earth as It Is in Hell", sounded. But, I didn't expect the album to be as epic as it was! Now, Hell is back in  the spot-light thanks to this 4-track, 22 minutes long "Single" that features one new track, "The Age Of Nefarious", as well as three live tracks (" On Earth As It Is In Hell", "Blasphemy And The Master" and
"The Oppressors"). Here's the thing though. From what I've read it seems as if Hell has tried (for some unknown) reason to distance themselves from the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene. But, even if this British-based 5-piece doesn't necessarily identify themselves as being part of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement, which is kind of weird when you take into account that the heavy metal-leaning Hell was first formed back in 1982 when the movement was in it's prime, still kicking major ass and quite alive (thank you very much), the reality is Hell is just about as close as you can get to being a full-on N.W.O.B.H.M. act from their style (straight-ahead heavy metal with a major dose of Venom/Merciful Fate satanism/mysteriousness) to their stage presence (costumes and imagery are a huge part of their theatrical live shows!) and even their substance (Hell's music feels like classic British metal)! Formed by members of Race Against Time and Paralex, and sadly never making it past the demo stage the first time around, Hell comes to the party fully-loaded with the metallic fury that is "The Age Of Nefarious" and, if this is any indication of the direction that the group plans to take on their next album, then the follow-up to "Human Remains" should be a great heavy metal platter! Now, I'll admit that coming into this "Single" I wasn't sure what direction to go with this review. Yes, I loved "Human Remains" and found myself becoming a huge Hell fan as a result. That being said I did feel a bit let down after a l-o-n-g talked about e-mail interview that I set up with Hell never came back to me. At the time the group was still in the "we need press and we need it now" stage and, after going back and forth with the group's manager (and doing a crap-load of research to make sure that my interview questions were well thought out and covered a lot of ground), I obliged and looked forward to getting the answers back. Well, follow-up requests proved to be fruit-less endeavors and I ended up adding Hell to the (growing) list of group's who never replied to e-mail interviews. So, my personal feelings toward Hell might be one thing, but their music is another. And while these guys might still be crafting (lyric-wise) cheese-feast worthy songs, which (let's face it) was the lone-downside of "Human Remains", the actual music is dastardly and "The Age Of Nefarious" is no different! With the band's long-anticipated sophomore album, "Curse And Chapter", due for release towards the end of November it will be interesting to see how it stacks up side-by-side with "Human Remains". With lead vocalist David Bower sounding as spooky as ever on both the lone studio-track and the three live cuts it certainly seems to suggests that Hell will be, once-again, "in for the win" with album number two. Original members Kev Bower (guitar and keys), Tony Speakman (bass) and Tim Bowler (drums) are also all returning for album two so (consistency-wise) one can't help but get a little excited for the prospects of "Curse And Chapter". Of course no one can forget about someone as important as guitarist Andy Sneap whose skills did a lot to help shape the epic "Human Remains". I'm a big fan of both his playing and his work behind the scenes so if he's on board once again then (fingers-crossed boy and girls) this "Single" is just the beginning of what stop be a cool wrap up for 2013's heavy metal scene!

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