Hell Within
God Grant Me Vengeance

When Killswitch Engage vowed to kill off “Nu Metal,” eight years ago, it was what the masses wanted to hear, and kill it they did, annihilate it in fact; as the scores of terrible bands that had spawned from the late nineties to the beginning of this millennium were all bit exterminated (with exceptions). Although seeing the revival of the likes of Limp Bizkit, Korn and a few others, maybe this wasn’t truly the case (or hope), but that’s another discussion. In the place of Nu Metal, modern metalcore was propelled into its place, the whipping boy of heavy music, the butt of endless inter scene jokes and lambasting, but above all, the scourge of the music journalist once the formula of Swedish metal, breakdowns and sugary choruses had begun to wear thin.

Credit then to Hell Within. Five years on from their debut not an awful lot has changed in their stodgy, east coast assault. The foundation is firmly rooted in their home territory (Lowell, Massachusetts) namely Unearth and Shadows Fall, together with a love of some of the bigger names in metal, particularly Pantera and Slayer and to finish, some Swedish homage to add further layering and texture. Thus, it solidifies the premise that little has changed here and this can lead to several theories as to why.

First is that Hell Within truly loves what they play and feel no pressure or need to change. Second is that they believe that maybe, just maybe modern metalcore is due a second wind of interest at which they wish to be at the epicentre and finally, that the fan base established from the previous two albums will devotedly consume this and faithfully support the band in their upcoming touring endeavours and that’s all that really matters.

Whatever the true motive may be, again Hell Within has to be credited for their stoicism as there is zero pretence throughout the duration of God Grant Me Vengeance. The band play to their strengths and have bought forth a solid, burly effort that rumbles defiantly for just over forty five minutes, with an emphasis on the improvement of the core constituents to form a stronger framework and a stronger identity, even if the influences are still easily identifiable. As Aristotle proclaimed, “the whole is more than the sum of the parts,” and with this album, that’s overtly apparent. Each component is so crucial to the rhyme and rhythm of the sound that any disruption to this balance would upset the overall impact. For example, sans the overdriven metal, classical solos and leads that decorate “Condemning the Bloodline,” the breakdowns wouldn’t hit as hard, and likewise without the breakdowns the metal wouldn’t sound as graceful.

This highlights the crystallisation of the core influences as nothing here is sacrificed in favour of the other. That unfortunately means that the clean vocals (which, as I have said previously, the “anathema,” of modern metalcore), are as potently honed as their accompanying constituents. Surprisingly though, new vocalist JJ Long isn’t as whiny as his predecessor, nor is he pushing to ape Jesse Leach when he spits venom (or Dan Weyandt from Zao for that fact), and rather than the clean vocals being unwelcome, they sound somewhat natural when deployed.

Further evidence of this concentration on balance is found on tracks such as “Lament for the Fallen,” and “Deliverance,” which at face value would appear to be the more digestible pieces of the album, but both competently mesh melody with mosh and metal. The latter is particularly effective, digging in deeply to bring forth some of the more twisted, darker riffs conjured on the album. This darker side comes forth further on moody closer “Hours of Decay,” which leads with gentle yet atmospheric acoustic picking and a solemn solo. It shows again the appreciation for the more classic metal whilst controlling the atmosphere, before it gives way to that omnipotent Swedish shred which busily injects the piece with a frantic gallop to its end.

Given the competition that Hell Within face in the realms of hardcore and metal, they have to be applauded for not embracing what is the zeitgeist of the month. Rather, they honestly and bravely stick to what they know and do it well. It may not fast track them to halls of fame and album of the year awards but I’ll be one to bet that the members will be heartily satisfied that they are playing what they want and how they want.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Benjamin DeBlasi
September 9th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: faust666

    Good review for a very good album. Metalcore done right.


  2. Commented by: shaden

    i dont beleive that metalcore exists…a marketing term to resell average bands like killswitch engage and this band as well.


  3. Commented by: Juan Pinto

    I don´t believe that the moon exists… an astronomical term to refer to an average big round piece of rock floating in the sky


  4. Commented by: thisblacksession

    Juan, your comment just made my night. Well done, sir.


  5. Commented by: Posercrusher

    These guys used to be a nu metal band called Twytch, trend hopping frauds.


  6. Commented by: Punkeurtjeuh

    Posercrusher, grow a dick

    Good review, couple of very nice clean songs that crank up the overall score of the album


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