Company: Prosthetic Records Release: 2014 Genre: Metalcore Reviewer: Greg Watson
Goofing around or deliberately playing over the top?
The Hell is one of those bands you either love to death or hate to their very core. I had never really heard too much about them, give or take a blurb in one of the mags. For starters, there's not really a whole lot of information about them on the web, which was a little strange but it may be part of the M.O. As the first song started it became apparent that The Hell are the Steel Panther of metalcore. As I listened to the lyrics, I felt that I had hit the nail on the head.
With overly silly lyrical themes and songs like "We Like Dicks", "Deal With It" and "Bangers and Mosh", it's easy to think that this is just a mock band. But the more I listened through the album, the more I became undecided. Their lyrics are very over the top and quite humorous but are they really doing these lyrics tongue-in-cheek as a slap in the face of metalcore? Or are they just making the songs that way because they don't care what people think about them or the genre as a whole? I have no idea still. But what I do know is that regardless of posturing, the band are very adept at crafting a perfect metalcore song and delivering it with no hiccups or blatantly obvious mockery.
Tracks like "Everybody Dies", "Take Me Out" and "Snakes" are solid craft and could be heard on any of the smorgasboard of metalcore bands on the market today. What really does take some getting used to, however, are the vocals. The death vocals are incredibly done and hands down my favorite of the two styles that appear on "Groovehammer". The clean vocals are where things hit a snag. They are grating. For those of you that remember "Hook", think of Smee (played by the inimitable Bob Hoskins) singing/rapping. I could well do without those vocals but the play between those and the death vocals really do work well together. Musically, there are plenty of mammoth, bone crushing breakdowns and choruses for you to chant along with, which I found myself doing quite frequently.
The production is quality and overall, there's no glaring issues with the album itself. But to not know whether the band is just goofing around or deliberately playing over the top is maddening. That being said, however, The Hell have definitely earned a fan out of me. Regardless of their motives "Groovehammer" is a massive album full of heavy riffs, sing along choruses galore and a good romp from start to finish.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details