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Symbolic of its title, but deserving - 86%

Gutterscream, June 2nd, 2005

From more or less my neck of the woods comes Hades, a potent power/thrash group that can never be mistaken for the former Hades of Norway or the recently released Chinese one. They’re a band much like Leatherwolf that practically bled talent and showmanship only to fail to achieve the exaltation they deserve. It’s not like they don’t have enough lps out. They’ve also always had this predilection with money and success (and the topic ornaments three of their lp titles) that I never quite understood, but I never asked them either.

The five-piece are rightfully associated with the NY/NJ thrash scene in the mid/late ‘80s, but their songwriting aptitude doesn’t wholeheartedly lie in the concoction of vigorous thrash. They’re more apt to pen some elegantly strong power metal that can steer somewhat clear of the molten, or becomes a melding of both styles reminiscent of Taking Over-era Overkill, The Ultraviolence-age Death Angel, and the aforementioned Leatherwolf. Alan Tecchio, pre-Watchtower and yet uncelebrated despite his advanced range, even while hitting falsetto levels that can have canines running, is a real emerald of envy among similar bands while the rest of the musical bedrock are as tight and pronounced as they come.

The fairly safe “The Leaders?” begins side one, a robust tune with a slew of rhythms shifts and meaty chorus that’s just an aerobic warm-up for the band. “Legal Tender ” has a guitar twiddling, raucous main riff that sounds like “Thrashers” and “Electro-violence” had hammered into one another at an intersection. “Sweet Revenge” is a slow, punching tale dominated by a rhythm marked by the dramatic, meanwhile “Nightstalker” commences with a similar hunting gait, but quickly leaps out of shadow for a fleet-footed sally of wily drumwork, alluring melody and is a fine finale for the side.

Side two doesn’t rest on its laurels and keeps the pressure stoked through its entirety. “Resist $uccess” (notice the $, as in $avior $elf) is another hard plower riding on the strength of its domineering main stroke and vocally-backed chorus, but tends to pale to the might of the solid, prevailing cadence of “Widow’s Mite (Chapter Eleven)” and its roiling set of solos via Scott LePage and Dan Lorenzo. Despite the ire of “Widow’s Mite”, it has a difficult time sparring with the super-tough, Mighty Joe Young of a power ballad that is “The Cross”. Mystical acoustics backed with airy keys sets a majestic timbre that cannot help but lay defeated, overcome by a jarring, precise riff crowned by a luminescent Tecchio crystal breaker. The multi-part “Masque of the Red Death” is unsurprisingly the lp’s climax. With facet-splicing narratives, a kaleidoscope of moods, intense musicianship and a well-written story reflective of a slightly sunnier Iced Earth, “Masque…”, to a lesser degree, is their “Dante’s Inferno” and “Metropolis Pt. 1”. Musically, the band cooks here, especially when act three, “The Masquerade including the Twelfth Hour and Return of the Red Death”, comes knockin’.

What started out as a light set of squat thrusts ends up a full-on balance beam act. Too bad the seats aren’t packed. If anything, the title symbolically marks their downfall. Sure, they sell some records now and then, but so do Lawrence Welk and the Bay City Rollers. Recommendable to those wanting to hear the real Hades.