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Review: HolyHell - HolyHell

Label: Magic Circle Music
Year released: 2009
Duration: 70:53
Tracks: 13
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: October 20, 2009
Reviewed by: Hermer Arroyo
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.35/5 (87.06%) (17 Votes)

HolyHell is a female-fronted Power Metal band from the United Stated and this is their self-titled debut. The band has all the elements that you want in a band from the genre: soothing voice, good musicianship and solid songs. The record itself has thirteen songs and lasts more than an hour (the shortest song here is four minutes long), so you'll get plenty of stuff to satisfy you for a while. Now, whenever there is a female-fronted metal band, most people will draw comparisons to Nightwish, but they are not a Nightwish clone. While that band focuses more on the symphonic side of metal, HolyHell leans more on the Power Metal side (think of a less good early Dark Moor); frankly, the only noticeable similarity is that both of them have female singers.

The band has good, if not great players starting with their singer Maria Breon. Her voice is soothing and melodic, you'll be satisfied with her performance as long as you don't expect super high notes. The rhythm section is very good, led by Jay Rigney (bass) and Kenny Earl "Rhino" Edwards (drums, and former Manowar member). Nevertheless, to me their pair of guitarists Thomas Hess and Joey Stump are the stars of the record. Both of them contribute a lot to the songs and while the riffs are unspectacular, they add speed and flair during their solos that was sorely needed. On the other hand, I found that the keyboards of Francisco Palomo are completely unnecessary. I don't get it, why would you have a keyboardist if you aren't going to use him appropriately? He only provides an atmosphere to the songs and seldom does he take the lead, an example of this is "Prophecy".

But playing ability is not my problem with the band, their biggest drawback being their songwriting ability. It is extremely uneven; there is some cool stuff like the opener "Wings of Light", "Angel of Darkness" and "Gates of Hell". However, most of the songs are at a mid pace and repetitive. If it wasn't for the guitar solos, you would have been bored to death. Not only that but this record is marred by average ballads like "The Fall" and the Godgory cover "Resurrection". The bland instrumental "Mephisto" doesn't help things either. This is a frustrating situation, each song has its moments, but just a few of them really hold up for the duration of the song.

Having being signed by Joey DiMaio's Magic Circle label, the band is set up to do great things. Unfortunately, for that to happen they will have to improve significantly. HolyHell is not a bad album, there are plenty of likeable things about it, but at the end of the day it is an average album full of potential. However, I believe that the band can improve upon this, and that is exactly what I expect for their follow up.

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