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To perturb and disturb with slithering music - 63%

Byrgan, July 3rd, 2009

You got to wonder about the band name, you know, with the whole contradictory combination of "holy" and "hell." I mean, bands that have such subtle titling can be highly elusive, you never know what they're referring to—those ambiguous and self-righteous s.o.b.'s might elude to anything. Not to mention "Kill Jesus" could be about some dark haired Mexican duping good-ol'-fair-haired band members into believing their "enchilada" was dressed up as a burrito. You never know when Jesus or his brother Juan could strike your town and burn you brown. You might just title your band's demo after slaying Hector, Pedro or even Pancho. Beware. I mean, a band was once started in the Scandinavian area called "Fuck Beherit," maybe it's in the air.

This follows a similar train of thought to Nevada's Goatlord and Necro Schizma, with music that morphs what Hellhammer did into something that is filthy, doomy and ultimately evil. Though initially listening to some dreamy piano, strings and spoken words from some random film in the intro, you might not know what to expect. Though the supreme idea is to produce music that seeps into your brain gradually. This is simplistic, but, then again, it isn't all thick notes and caveman strokes on the guitar as some spacy riffing and abstract playing is initiated with harmonics and other oddities. And tempered solos are heard here and there, as if they want to show they've still got some shred of humanity left.

The vocals share some likeness to earlier Quorthon, with that croaky and raspy type of delivery. However, they're somewhat of a different leaning than the later material used by Unholy. This is adolescent sounding, those vocal chords didn't begin to fill in and aren't giving a completely refined delivery that's on top of every uttered syllable. So when it hiccups, it can instead pull you away from the rest of the music from their attempted alluring grasp; especially since it's the loudest aspect in the mix, save the snare. There are moments and additions that have some medium and bordering on faster beats. "Nuclear Mass" comes off initially as some thrash tune in namesake alone, though the guitars at one point strum a basic note and the drummer decides he's done with slow and breaks the deadpan with some pounding snare. Palm mutes and other jonesin' inclusions are still here to entice your neck, instead of cradling your head to nightmarish sleep. The track justifiably titled "Hate Hard Rock (Or Die)" is something like Bathory met a kind of evil hardcore. It comes with monstrous distorted bass and those primitive, hitting-the-snare-and-hi-hat-simultaneously beats, along with a characteristic slower tempo in the middle to show you they've still got it or can't decide just what type of music they want to actually play.

The core band of Holy Hell, before cranking up the monstrous engines with the later group Unholy, is experimenting and beginning to find out what they're made of. This isn't conforming music by any stretch, essentially extreme even by extreme metal standards in '89 since a good chunk of this is mood centered compared to other bands who might have gone for, say, a distincter guitar line, melody or catchiness factor. You can imagine this would have even gave Trouble listeners early strokes from its villainy. The band at this point would show you a few different factions of what they were capable of playing at that point in time, but that's one of the follies of this release: in that they switch up to other genres that only seem there to show all of their influences, instead of being worked in without notice or like it belonged there all along. This is the first step to a particular sound that would gradually grow and get tighter as musicians with early Unholy releases and then maximize itself on their full length "From the Shadows."