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Truly hellish in scope - 93%

prezuiwf, July 9th, 2007

The album artwork for Harter Attack’s Human Hell album should be the first tip-off that the music contained therein is simply fierce. Indeed, most of the lyrics on this band’s one and only album deal with nuclear war and other deadly ills of humanity, with thrash so apocalyptic and ferocious it could easily be the soundtrack to Armageddon (the end of the world, not the Bruce Willis movie). The musicality is a bit closer to death metal than most of their thrash contemporaries, but there are also comparisons to be made to the likes of Motorhead, particularly with some of Rich Harter’s vocal performances.

The energy of this album never lets up for a second—right off the bat, you’re hit with “Death Bells Of The Apocalypse,” which, aside from having one of the coolest titles ever, is also a fantastic album intro. Starting off with a midpaced riff, it explodes violently into an uptempo version of itself, leaving the listener with whiplash and an undeniable hunger for more. For the rest of the album, guitars blaze as the atmosphere spirals downward into the fiery pits of hell, with drums pounding the whole time and Harter yelling every lyric as if he’s on his last breath.

Every song is as fierce as the last, and while this band won’t win any points for creative songwriting, their raw energy and sincerity makes up for the fact that the songs tend to blend together at times. This album is more of a cohesive experience than a simple collection of songs, designed to pummel the listener into submission. “Thugs Against Drugs,” with its stop-start structure, leaves fleeting moments of peace before launching back into the hellish barrage of sound common on this record. Even songs that are slightly slower, like the beginning of “Nuclear Attack,” feel just as violent as everything else on the album, a testament to the raw nature of the recording.

The album ends with the brutal “Let The Sleeping Dogs Die,” which frighteningly demonstrates that the band may have actually been holding back until this finale. Harter, indeed, sounds like a tortured man here, shrieking with every breath, and drummer George Chahalis slams the skins like he’s got a score to settle. Like any good thrash album, this one has a finale that leaves you bushed yet strangely yearning for another spin. That would be recommended, of course, as it’s difficult to take in the apocalyptic majesty of this album with only one listen. It’s disappointing that Harter Attack would disband after this release, but if they only had one shot to make a killer thrash album, this one was as good as any other.