Review Summary: Is this long delayed debut worth the 20+ year wait?
Hell’s Human Remains
is the heavy metal world’sDuke Nukem Forever
. Hell was a NWOBHM band that had massively controversial live shows for the time (proto-corpse paint, hysterical rants on satanic pulpits, exploding Bibles, etc.). They were black metal before black metal existed. And for some strange reason, no record label wanted to sign them and give them a chance to put out a debut record. I wonder why? However, in 2008, the band got back together and finally got a record label to sign them (their antics seem tame now compared to what many big name black metal bands do) and they can now release the over 20 year delayed album. But is it worth the wait?
Well, like the aforementioned Duke Nukem Forever
, it disappoints. The main problem is that the thing that Hell sold themselves on was their blasphemous image and stage antics. Well, in the time since Hell’s break up, the whole black metal movement sprung up and has done everything Hell does in this album. Except better. Even Hell’s contemporary, Mercyful Fate, did it better. The whole album feels like it is ridden with clichés. Satan praising lyrics? Check. High pitched falsetto vocals? Check. Hysterical ranting? Check again. The thing is, all of these things have been done before. While still very solid, the unfortunate nature of the delay makes the whole album feels like it has been overdone and isn’t very original.
However, Hell is at its best when it DOES NOT do these things that made them famous. The song Plague and Fyre
has (relatively) little mention of all things devilish, and it turns out to be the best song on the album, with a catchy chorus and strong instrumentation. Another example is Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us
, an actually relatively modern critique on people in authority. And not one mention of a church or priest. Instead they focus on overbearing parents and political figures. Once they step away from their Satan praising persona, they seem to be able to put out higher quality music.
The music is all proficient, especially the great dueling guitar work of Kev Bower and Andy Sneap, it just lacks an extra touch to make it a great album. Maybe if Hell tried to do something new instead of simply trying to pander to the old fans they had in the 80s, this album could be praised as a worthy debut after 20 years. Instead, it feels overdone and unnecessary. Perhaps if this album was released when it was intended to it would be one of the most influential albums of all time, having praise showered upon it by legions of black metallers with Hell being mentioned in the same breath as Mercyful Fate and Venom. But now, it is simply a relic of the past that never needed to see the light of day.
-Great guitar work
-Some really ambitious and interesting song structures
- Catchy choruses
-Generic Falsetto vocals
-Boring Rhythm Section
Plague and Fyre
Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us
On Earth As It Is In Hell