|Review: Hell - Human Remains|
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year released: 2011
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: July 15, 2011
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Rated 4.04/5 (80.74%) (54 Votes)
I'm a huge fan of the NWOBHM, so anytime a band from that era gets back together, it's a cause for excitement. Hell was moments away from their shot at fame when the label set to release their debut, Mausoleum Records, folded in 1986. Singer/guitarist Dave Halliday committed suicide the next year, effectively ending the band. Fast forward to the more recent past where Sabbat's Andy Sneap, who learned guitar from Halliday, meets the former member of Hell and, after recruiting David Bower, brother of original guitarist Kev Bower, to handle vocals, they decide to re-record the old songs. Now, in 2011, we have the full-length, Human Remains.
While the band and songs are vintage, the sound is not. Big, room-filling guitars and drums emanate from the speakers. The songs have been given a modern update and no longer have that classic NWOBHM loose, almost punk-rock, feel. The music on Human Remains sounds like a cross between classic Savatage and Wolf's 21st century take on the 80s sound. Dave Bowers has a love-it-or-hate-it voice that is sure to divide listeners. His barely controlled warbling sounds a lot like Warrel Dane from back in the Sanctuary days. Since I disliked Dane's vocals back then, I find Bowers singing equally irritating. Still, I would be lying if I said his singing didn't fit the music and actually intensifies the sometimes satanic lyrical themes. Songs like "Plague and Fyre" or "Blasphemy and the Master" are enjoyable being big, powerful and heavy, Bowers vocals notwithstanding. The rest of Human Remains is largely unremarkable, unless you count the numerous spoken parts and special effects (I did like the bagpipes leading up to "Macbeth," but the witches are truly annoying.) Hell play with a ton of energy, but it isn't enough to raise the songs much above "OK."
Human Remains is not as authentically NWOBHM sounding as I would have liked, especially considering Hell's pedigree. Nevertheless, it nods to the 80s more than a little a bit and, if you can get past the vocals, you may be rewarded with some high energy, cheesy Heavy Metal for your trouble.
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