Black Hell
Deformers of the Universe

Arizona’s crippling summer heat has forged some of the underground’s most abrasive bands, including Unruh (1999’s Setting Fire to Sinking Ships on Pessimiser), Wellington (1999 split with Noothgrush on Deep Six), and Carol Ann (2003 split with Noothgrush on Catchphraze). Phoenix’s Black Hell—starring Unruh bassist Mike Bjella, Wellington guitarist Charlie Goodwin, and two Carol Ann cronies, guitarist/vocalist Frank Davenport and drummer Josh Bodnar—distills the sludgy essence of the latter two bands and adds a distinctive Southern groove to the works.

After some bad-ass vocal phasing, “Cowboy Cold” gets down to business with a very Eyehategod type of swing. “Zero” has an unbelievably solid bridge of Southern-rock soloing, and different tempos, the slower ones sounding like Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium. “Black Heart Destroyer” begins like the previous cut but continues more in the vein of Iron Monkey minus the feedback. “Rain Gasoline” bristles with ample High on Fire pyrotechnics, while the Motörhead-forged filth punk of “Nuclear Duke” and especially “Burn” bring the head-down Southern doom of Hawg Jaw to bear.

The album closes with a noise track “Deformed,” modulated ambience transmitted from deep space that allows time to absorb the bold, Monster Magnet-styled cover art by Mike Sutfin and the stellar reverse packaging with the track listing on the front (like the Melvins catalog on Ipecac). Black Hell certainly bear the standard of stoner-inspired neo-doom, as Deformers of the Universe explodes with Southern-rock solos that would have Lynyrd Skynyrd yearning for the ol’ days.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
February 19th, 2008

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