Do band names get any more generic than Hell? Metal Archives lists 8 other bands with the name Hell, which unfortunately doesn’t include the spoof black metal band I started with a friend of mine in 9th grade. This project from Oregon popped up on my radar via last year’s stellar split with Thou, Resurrection Bay and I remember thinking with a name that generic, you’d better be pretty fucking good. Well, Hell is pretty fucking good and then some. III, the conclusion to their trilogy of albums, is their most accomplished, most refined, most crushing material yet. They expertly wield icy black metal daggers with cudgels of doom, carving and beating cavernous atmosphere and bludgeoning riffs. This right here is some of the best blackened doom you’re likely to hear this or any year.

Hell has an outstanding grasp of the conventions of doom and black metal and how they complement each other. Blackened tremolo picked riffs are laid over slow, deliberate drums and evolve from a blasphemous cacophony to feverish psychedelia as the tempos shift. Big, spacious doom riffs morph into mid-paced black metal that shifts to a sprint before dropping mammoth waves of doom. They take their time building the atmosphere, shifting styles and delivering intensely satisfying payoffs at the end of each track. “Mourn” drops a series of chord concussions heavy enough to flatten a city block. “Decedere” ends with a big thick riff, burgeoned by an emergent thick bass tone.

The production is of the typically trebly black metal variety, but the filthy tone of the bass is prominent and adds just the right amount of thickness to the mix. It’s a grim marriage, one that provides heft and weight without sacrificing the ethereal analog fog. III was originally released on cassette last year and the production accurately reflects the intended format. Judging from the sounds of the digital promo, I’d wager this new LP run sounds even better.

Despite the fairly lame name, Hell manages a delicate stylistic balancing act that makes the moniker rather apt. It’s a tall task managing dark atmosphere, big riffs, and slicing bursts of violence and Hell does a better job of fusing doom and black metal than any of their peers. III trumps their excellent early material in scope and structure, and is possibly the best example of the style released in the past few years. Fans of both black metal and doom should get a great deal of satisfaction from this release and I highly recommend digging into their back catalog as well.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
August 15th, 2013


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