Review Summary: With two genres at their disposal, Ukranian death/thrash entrepreneurs Hell:On have delivered an addictive, high-octane release.
A measured fusion of death and thrash metal, Hell:On (once referred to instead as "Hellion") is a five-piece troupe from the Ukraine. The almost-Russian metalheads caught some well-deserved attention with their fourth full-length - succinctly-titled “Hunt
” - which has proven to be the band at their best. Combining the explosive bedlam of oldschool thrash compositions with the pummeling force and sound of modern death metal, the members of Hell:On show off ludicrous speed and calculated control, all the while establishing a new set of expectations for their future endeavours.
The guitarwork on “Hunt
” varies greatly from track to track in a chaotic way, giving each song a distinct sound and pattern. While the album's opener "Hear My Call" utilises a very standard death metal tuning, "Beyond Morality" employs a much shriller tone, giving every chorus a disjointed sense of melody when it collides with the vocals. On tracks such as "Slaughter Smell" and "The Game", Hell:On deliver a thrashy song structure to the hymn of a more death-like sound, cementing the fusion of the two genres and executing their union very skillfully. Between the high-octane, blisteringly-fast riffs and the slower-paced and melodic passages that sparsely populate the album, the guitarwork of “Hunt
” is a very fruitful listen that performs well beyond its specifications.
The diversity hardly stops with the guitars: the brash and brazen vocals delivered by Olexandr Bayev cycle through several different tones, from the mid-pitched barks that were once a genre staple of thrash metal to the far lower growls more attuned to modern death metal. The occasional shriek notwithstanding, the vocals on “Hunt
” are marginally more predictable than the guitarwork that propels them in the mix, but the true surprises lay with how they fuse with the sound environment that Hell:On has crafted. The sonic clashing of chaotic riffs and strained shouts on tracks like "Duality" give off vibes not unlike the latest from All Pigs Must Die, just as the title track's anthem-like closing supports a much more melodic sound environment. The source of Hell:On's sonic brilliance is the manner in which the innerworkings of “Hunt
” mesh with one another, giving each of the album's nine tracks a sense of unique singularity.
The bass, though often oppressed by the majority of the mix, is at times low and crunchy, before transitioning into a higher tone with a more wiry sound. On the final track, "Insight", it can be heard giving the oomph
to the raging guitar riff that opens the song's sonic assault. Eventually, on that very same track, the basswork will conform to the high pitches of the guitarwork, lending an essential backing to the sound environment before fading into the inaudible anarchy of Hell:On's mix. The drumwork, on the other hand, is very easily-heard as it pummels its way through “Hunt
”. The band's drummer delivers a full house of hat hits, bass kicks, and standard-fare blast beats, all at blistering speeds, rounding out the amalgamation of death and thrash metal in a well-executed and calculated form.
” was a completely off-the-radar surprise, coming from a band that for all intents and purposes is as underground as it is unknown - but like most of the surprises in the metal world, Hell:On's latest full-length is a promising listen. Though the album is filled to the brim with every aspect that make death and thrash metal so enjoyable to listen to, the Ukrainian troupe incorporated an unexpected feature into their music: diversity. Whether it was an intentional calculation or a byproduct of the bedlam inherent in the sound design, the songs on “Hunt
” simply refuse to bore, no matter how many hours you've spent listening to the album. Perhaps some of Hell:On's ingenuity lies within their brevity, as the running time of the record is somewhere around the half-hour mark, but one thing is for certain: they've crafted quite the enjoyable listen with “Hunt
”. I hope to hear more from them in the future.