on 25 November 2013
Well the boys from Hell have done it again. Not satisfied with their 2011 Masterpiece Human Remains, we now have their latest story Curse & Chapter. Picking up exactly where they finished off, in a world devoid of divinity, I wonder how many fans will get busy splicing the two albums together into one uninterrupted Book of Hell (I know I did).
The album opens with the expected fully orchestrated introduction, Kev Bower showing us the depth of his musical skills, and the unbelievable power of a Yamaha Motif (no orchestra involved here). Then straight into the blistering Age of Nefarious, the first new full song of the album, taking Hell into a new dimension (if not the 5th) as their second album gives us a mix of finishing the release of the back catalogue from the first time around, and looking forwards with new material. Not that the back catalogue is anything to be sneered at, as Disposer Supreme belies its age, sounding just as vital as a song written yesterday, even though as I hear the marionettes line I can still see the mime like shrug Dave Halliday used to do back in the day.
But then we reach the summoning of the Darkhangel, the magnum opus of the album. With an introduction so tasty you might think it was seasoned with Oxo, this is just an awesome track, and one that reaches unexpected heights live (check out the bonus DVD), but doesn't lose any of that drama without the band in front of you.
Then we're back to the back catalogue, though strictly speaking not Hell's, as Harbinger of Death is actually a cover, from the equally excellent Race Against Time. This was original singer Dave Halliday's previous band, but the song always formed a popular part of the set, and this version features the surviving R.A.T members on backing vocals.
Then you get to the curiously spelt End Ov Days, the first song on the album that hadn't already been released or played live in some manner. Of course it doesn't dissappoint, and wins the prize for the most persistent vocal hook on the album. You will have "Fear your God" stuck in your head for days - trust me. It's interesting to note that this song is written by Andy Sneap and Dave Bower, who weren't part of the band first time around, yet this still captures the sound of Hell perfectly.
Then we get to the track that the album would not have been complete without. Deathsquad, one of only two of the original Hell songs to get a vinyl release first time around. This instrumental has it's sounds planted firmly in the 80s synths, and it would have been so easy to update those sounds and heavily orchestrate this song, but mercifully they didn't, leaving us with a very faithful version keeping to the original charm.
Then it's time to get all dramatic again. On the new album frontman and professional Actor Dave Bower (or Beckford in his actor guise) shows us his acting chops throughout this album, but they really come to the fore in this Shakespearean inspired Something Wicked This Way Comes. It's sometimes hard to remember you are listening an album and not the sound track of some high budget West End Gothic Rock Opera.
Then another previously unheard song, this time Faith Will Fall with Tim Bowler literally thumping the message into the darkest recesses of your head. Probably the hardest hitting of all the new songs, sure to be the headbangers favourite.
Then back to the back catalogue with my favourite song, from seeing them first time around, in the shape of Land of the Living Dead. I was gutted this wasn't on the first album, but they're forgiven now.
Then another old live favourite, and given the bass line, probably Tony Speakman's favourite as well. It sounds a little out of place on this album, stylistically, but still well done, and featuring a guest appearance from Benny Hill.
Sadly it then comes to the end, all too soon, with another previously unheard Vespertine Legacy, telling the tale of things that move in the twilight hours. Starting with a curious little warning in Romanian, you plough on into dark domains with riffs and drama galore, before the album finally plays out to a mysterious ticking clock - just where are they taking us next?
They say the Devil has all the best tunes, well Hell certainly do.
on 29 November 2013
This album sucks. It reminds me of when I discovered the comedian Stewart Lee; he makes every other comedian seem rubbish by comparison. With Curse & Chapter, Hell disappoint by further hammering home the fact that very, very few metal bands are releasing start-to-finish awesome metal albums these days. This isn't just my favourite album of the year - it's sadly, and quite easily, the ONLY candidate.
As his been touched on in other reviews, the big fear was if Hell could ever match (never mind top) 'Human Remains'. Well fear not, because it really does somehow better their excellent debut. A couple of years touring the album has clearly helped Hell really hone their craft, and every facet of C&C just seems a little tighter and more focused than Human Remains. Furthermore, with an album half full of brand new material - the best stuff on the album, I would add - Hell have confirmed that they are a legitimate new band in their own right, rather than a nostalgia trip resting on some 25-year-old heavy metal laurels.
As for the music on display here, Hell simply have their very own sound. However as a point of reference for those who haven't heard the band before, I can only describe it as a theatrical blend of Maiden, Priest, Rush, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond and Dio-era Rainbow. The album is exceptionally well paced; fast metal song, prog rock song, short song, long song, old song, new song... the album belts along without a moment of filler or the feeling that it starts to sound 'same-y'. I could go on, but there are only so many superlatives that can be used so I would just say go and buy it. And do go and buy a physical copy, because you will miss out on some extremely inventive packaging if you download.
I can only hope there is only a 2 year wait until album number 3.
on 28 November 2013
Cannot recommend this CD highly enough! To begin with the digipack itself is tremendous value, giving you a fabulous fold out photo spread, a bonus live DVD from a band known for spectacular live shows, and of course the album itself
And good god is the album ever good! I really did not think they could beat the first one but they've done it. This one's even more polished in terms of the production, and the songs are like the old album on steroids. Yes that means songs with about 17,000 different riffs, endless clever production tricks, and catchy-as-**** vocal melodies, all tied together with a general theme of "religion is bad and hooray for Satan!". Musicaly there are more fast tracks than on the last album, which is good for any thrash fans out there, but it's still got it's share of beastly mid tempo epics too.
All in all I think this album and this band generally are the best of the best in metal at the moment. There's not one band out there with as much creativity and flair as these guys, and it's also nice to hear a band that isn't confined exclusively to any of the metal sub-genres. To a point if you've heard one black/thrash/death/etc etc album album you've heard them all, but you will *never* hear anything quite like this
5 billion inverted stars
on 25 November 2013
I have to be honest here and say i never really listened in full to Hell's previous album,it wasn't that i didn't like it,just that i download a frankly ridiculous amount of music and it got lost in there somewhere! Anyway i did listen to this one yesterday,and it is quite frankly....brilliant! Fantastic production,songs,musicianship,everything! In fact i was very tempted to go back to the first song and start again!That doesn't happen very often,usually i get annoyed at average songs etc....but i repeat,this is fantastic. Simply,if you like Metal,get this album!
on 1 December 2013
THE SCHEMING DEMONS ARE BACK, HITTING US HARD AND MAKING CAPITAL LETTERS, IN THE ABSENCE OF UMLAUTS, ESSENTIAL FOR THIS REVIEW.
ITS HARDLY A REVIEW, ITS A PAEAN FOR THE DIABOLICAL AMONGST US. THE FUTURE, SUCH AS IT IS, IS BURNING IN HELL. THIS ALBUM IS GLORIOUSLY INSANE, CATCHY, HEAVY,THOUGHT PROVOKING, CONTRAVERSIAL AND SO FULL OF VINTAGE/MODERN MAJESTY IT WILL KILL YOU JUST BY LOOKING AT YOU.
DE AMORE CANEM.
on 29 November 2013
As far as live shows go, there are fewer doing it better than Hell at the moment. I managed to catch them at Bloodstock in 2011 and they were one of the highlights of the weekend. Since then, their show has developed even more, with this year's Bloodstock appearance, amongst others, seeing exuberant frontman David Bower marching around on a pair of stilts while donning an enormous set of devil's horns.
They're a good band on disc, too, but like Kiss in their heyday, there is something lost in translation when you hear the material out of its live context. Curse & Chapter is a perfectly decent record, carrying on, quite literally, where Human Remains left us, as opening track Gehennae Incendiis begins with the same spoken word conclusion which that album ended with - In a world bereft of divinity, only the human remains - and the music pretty much does the same. Although there are few extra elements of experimentation thrown in here and there, this is pretty much an addendum to Human Remains as far as the sound goes. In itself, that is no bad thing as the songs, the playing and the vocal theatrics of Bower are a winning formula to stick to. The problem lies there - it's a formula. And as solid as the material might be, there feels little enough progression in it to make it really stand out.
No metal fan could wholly dislike Hell, what they sound like, and how they play their game, as everything they do is close to the pure archetype of what a metal band should be with the Satanic imagery, the stage theatrics, the shredding guitars, the high pitched vocals, the dramatic interludes, the minor chord progressions, the harmony guitars, the chugging riffs and the tongue that is distinctly in cheek. Even the packaging of the limited edition comes in a fold out Ouija board, though I can't verify if it actually channels inane messages from the disembodied spirits of the void. With the band having all of those ingredients intact Curse & Chapter wasn't ever going to be a bad album, even if it does feel a little too similar to Human Remains at times. But with standout tracks like Darkhangel, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Deliver Us From Evil, it resolves itself of its faults enough to be an entertaining record that is worth repeated listening.
on 28 November 2013
I must admit I was worried that the first album was a fluke. I figured its magnificence was a product of 25 years of reflection on already classic song writing ability. How could they do that again? I needn't have worried - note for note this album is every bit the equal of "Human Remains".
So to the people reading this who already know who Hell are - just buy it! You WILL love it.
In case you've stumbled across this by accident and you're diligently reading reviews and doing your homework before making an informed choice - this is for you.
Imagine what it would sound like if Iron Maiden had taken a break after 7th son, was just releasing a comeback album bursting with 25 years' worth of pent up energy/songwriting , employed Dave Mustaine as a consulting guitar tech and finally had consulted Rob Halford as an artistic director (who was left beleaguered after trying to reign in their theatrics). Sounds good? You're only half way there - just buy it and discover the rest for yourself.
on 27 November 2013
First witness to Hell as a main support early in 2013 (and meeting the band after-BONUS!) I sought out Album one after what I have to say was an awesome stage show.
Could not make Derby (see the DVD) in March - that was a big mistake for 2013 because this was an amazing show. Alas, the last performanace was a "short surmon" in support of Amon Amarth/Carcass in November...Amazing nevertheless. From the back of these performances alone BEST LIVE BAND 2013?
The new Album Curse & Chapter is more of the Fantastic work following on from "Human Remains" (nicely dove-tailed in from the start) some amazing work with Synth and Guitar.
It shouldn't be a surprise. Andy Sneap, Producer of many a fine band (including the other two mentioned above!) is involved, but high praise to all the band is required, with David Bower, Frontman of the year 2013 (?!?) creating a benchmark for future live performances into the stratosphere!
Looking forward immensely to seeing this on tour next year and beyond!
on 26 November 2013
After buying the single for the album, and seeing them live, I wasn't sure if I was certain this was going to be an amazing album, or a disappointment. Luckily, it's amazing. My only regret is not pre-ordering it so I could get it the very day it was released. Every single track on the album makes me think 'This is my new favorite song'.
on 23 February 2014
Hell are incredible. Their rise to prominence in the last five years has been a long time coming and a complicated story that I'm not going to go into here. Curse and Chapter is Hell's second album and, amazingly, manages to better their first which is no easy achievement. This version includes a fabulous DVD recorded partly at the 'Church Of Hell' showcase gig in Feb 2013, a gig I was lucky enough to be at and partly at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2013. Both are incredibly well produced (Andy Sneap is a master producer and also Hell's guitarist) and the whole package is very professional. If you like your Heavy Metal and Rock but haven't checked out Hell, then you really need to and soon