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Making a Hallowed Name for Thyself - 83%

Tanuki, October 31st, 2018

The sweetheart of Bandcamp and the 2017 rookie of the year right here on the Metal Archives, Satan's Hallow took the underground by storm for many justifiable reasons. They demonstrated the importance of a good ol' fashioned guitar lead with no funny business, they threw the hammer down and delivered upbeat, punchy compositions, and they extolled the virtue of brevity in an age where people conflate duration with value. These people, presumably unfamiliar with Virgin Steele's recent output, or the Transformers movies for that matter, need reminders that albums barely breaching the thirty-minute mark can still be worth your hard-earned cheddar.

Satan's Hallow has such a knack for pithy songwriting and striking melodies, it makes you wonder why it's so hard for every other so-called "spiritual successor of NWOBHM" to deliver something comparable. Whether the pace frolics, gallops, or storms out of the gate like a house on fire, guitar leads are ardent and nigh-intoxicating. 'Choir of the Cursed' and 'The Horror' are two potent examples of this; the effect is similar to, and almost as effective as, Heir Apparent's inexcusably underrated masterpiece Graceful Inheritance. On the topic of progressive metal, I was also reminded on a few occasions of Othyrworld's delectable riffage. And I was strongly reminded of Ritchie Blackmoore's, too. Isn't that right, title track?

The fact that everyone and their grandmother immediately saw fit to count the singer's X chromosones and subsequently die of shock, but fell silent like someone farted at their funeral when it came time to mention how 'Satan's Hallow' is a ripoff of 'Starstruck'... A little annoying, to be honest. I'm not saying a pinched riff is the end of the world, and I'm definitely not saying Mandy Martillo isn't worth mentioning; she's a kickass vocalist who conjures a distinctly ladylike cadence but with a powerhouse range. The "Dio but a girl" hyperbole is not entirely unfounded, especially during dynamic scorchers like 'Beyond the Bells'. But you have to remember to come up for air once in a while and consider other aspects of the music. Like, for example, pilfered leads. And how bass is harder to hear than negative criticism for this album.

Sticky fingers and dog-whistle treble notwithstanding, there's a ton of enjoyment and two tons of replay value to be had from Satan's Hallow. It's a zesty cocktail of Angel Witch, Di'Anno-era Maiden, and classic Rainbow with more atmosphere and eloquence than bands with decades' more experience. And believe me, I'm on the exact same tenterhooks as the rest of you whenever I look at their 'On Hold' status; I'd love to see Satan's Hallow reform and deliver a one-two punch as equally stunning as their debut. Until then, I'll just settle with 'Beyond the Bells' on repeat for the next six hours.

Blistering, Straightforward Traditional Metal - 95%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, April 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Underground Power Records (Bandcamp)

Recently I heard the news that Satan's Hallow had broken up, and I was quite disappointed, to say the least. Their debut album is one of the best metal albums I've heard from the past few years, and it had me excited to hear more from this young band. However, even if this turns out to be their first and last album, what an album it is.

Satan's Hallow takes a no-frills, NWOBHM-influenced approach to heavy metal, taking the guitar harmonies and triplet riffs of Iron Maiden and Angel Witch and combining it with the balls-to-the-wall muscle and soaring vocals of USPM bands like Jag Panzer and Omen. Vocalist Mandy Martillo is the star of the show here. Her confident, powerful voice gives life to the lyrics of horror and the macabre that permeate the album, soaring over the pounding riffs and harmonies provided by guitarists Von Jugel and Steve Beaudette.

The production is decidedly retro-sounding, with some grit and fuzz to the guitar tone, but everything sits well in the mix, and overall makes for a good listening experience. The songs tend to follow a straightforward Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Solo-Chorus formula, but it is never to the detriment of the songs, and the tried and true formula proves to be a success on this album.

For the time being, Satan's Hallow is no more. If they should reunite, I'd definitely be the first in line to listen. To anyone looking for great new traditional metal, this album is for you.

Fantastic melodic lead-heavy heavy metal - 90%

bolmeteus6, November 13th, 2017

When Satan’s Hallow debuted in 2015 with their first 7”, I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly impressed; there was potential there, but the songs left me feeling like there was something missing in the songwriting, and I shelved the band until this year. Now, returned with an eponymous debut and another seven songs (on top of the two re-recorded ones from the 7”), Satan’s Hallow has totally sold me with one of my favorite heavy metal debut albums in the last couple years.

When I saw the initial hype over Satan’s Hallow I was skeptical, and the first listen through didn’t catch me much; to my ears, the melodies were more saccharine than I prefer in my heavy metal, and the vocals were almost too smooth. It had just enough to draw me back, and the second (and all other listens) totally blew me away; massive riffs, great songwriting, fantastic vocals, and enough catchy melodies, solos, and leads to make it stand out from the pack throughout the course of the album. Best of all, it’s succinct- one of my biggest problems with some of the stuff that’s popped up in recent years that tries something somewhat similar is an over-reliance on repetition and extension, and Satan’s Hallow trust themselves enough to avoid that pitfall with short, catchy songs that pop up, enter, and vanish before a listener can lose interest.

According to an interview with the singer and drummer, the main songwriter, Von Jugel, writes just about everything, and his close attention to detail really shows; the little interplays between the drumming, the vocal melodies, and the guitar work can be absolutely breath-taking, even at their simplest. Sometimes it almost feels like he’s writing directly to my preferences (such as with the several sections with slow riffs but fast drums, a songwriting technique that I’ve always adored), and even to the very end some of my favorite tropes are used in amazing ways as quick speed metal riffs build up to zeniths of harmony or galloping rhythms give rise to gorgeous leads. Though my favorites are the fastest songs, the several more mid-paced songs are handled incredibly well, staying interesting at all times. From the first notes of the first song to the final notes of the last, Satan’s Hallow is incredibly memorable (the ultimate litmus test of a good album versus a bad one for me), catchy, and most importantly, as I’ve said, riffy as all hell.

Another strength of the album is variety; some of the songs (see: the title track) are anthemic and vocal driven, while others rip through their short time in a startling show of guitar wizardry and speedy riff-worship. The band self-describe as just being pure heavy metal, and they certainly take influences from the entire spectrum of the genre. From the gallops and dual-harmonization of Iron Maiden to the pounding rhythm section of the most powerful Omen songs, the pacing bounces from place to place naturally, getting fast for a song and then slowing for another as the album leads listeners through journeys of self-referential metal might, of the horror of the Gorgon, and even through journeys of a more personal type.

Though I’ve talked mostly about the guitar work (always the most important part of an album for me), Mandy Martillo’s powerful and smooth singing does an important job carrying the album, adding an extra amount of charisma to latch onto as she sails above the album’s mix. Her lines just scream out at you, sticking in your head and calling you back to listen to the album over and over again. Additionally, the drummer, one Patrick “Rüsty” Glöckle, does an admirable job of providing a solid rhythmic backbone to the album (despite sitting a tiny bit lower in the mix than I normally prefer for my metal), always pounding out fitting beats with a great instinct of when to play fills and when to avoid overplaying.

Satan’s Hallow is a great success for Satan’s Hallow’s first album, and I really hope that they keep doing more; until then, I’ll continue to listen to what’s proven to be one of my favorite albums this year, and I recommend that everyone do the same.

Originally written for Toilet Ov Hell.

Heavy metal is Still Alive! - 95%

Trashy_Rambo, October 21st, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Underground Power Records (Bandcamp)

It's really rare for a new, traditionally styled heavy metal band to really grab me. Between endless, inferior imitations of the genre's legends and production values that rarely sit well with me, it can be a bit of a slog sometimes. Although admittedly there's really not much new ground to be broken with this style, not every band is automatically doomed. Bands whose influences are immediately obvious can still be good, provided that the songwriting is solid and the derivation isn't too egregious. This is one of those bands.

First, and most importantly, let's talk about the fucking riffs! This album has them in spades! From the Maiden-ish opening volley of Reaching for the Night, to the NWOBHM swagger of the title track, you'll be banging your head from start to finish! Von Jugel and Steve "Lethal" Beaudette are definitely a duo to watch in the coming years, and they can really do no wrong here. Frequent lead guitar flourishes make things feel a bit wild at times (In a good way of course), and the solos are nothing to sneeze at either! The extended solo in Still Alive is easily my favorite of the bunch, perfectly complimenting the tension of the lyrics while providing just a pinch of delicious shred.

Mandy Martillo is an excellent heavy metal frontwoman in the tradition of greats like Leather Leone and Doro Pesch, but it would be a huge disservice to leave it at that! She owns this thing, and I feel like she's just getting started. The lyrics here are fairly dark, mostly dealing with occult and horror themes, and she really sells it perfectly. Still Alive just drips tension. Even though I think lyrics about rocking/partying/etc are pretty silly and cliche, I don't even mind when they pop up in Hot Passion, because it just sounds so damned good.


Albums of this style tend to benefit from being on the shorter side, and the songs here average about 3:40, so they never have time to get old. Between the rock solid songwriting, excellent amount of variety, and the exuberant energy that permeates the entire thing, I really can't recommend it enough. Easily one of my favorite albums of 2017.

Highlights:
Reaching for the Night
The Horror
Still Alive
Beyond the Bells

A+ - 100%

Lyrici17, September 26th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Underground Power Records (1st Edition)

Satan’s Hallow is traditional heavy metal band out of Chicago, Illinois, USA, and their self-titled debut is an absolute gem. I’m not of the mind that every band or album must be innovative or be reinventing the wheel in some way. I’m cool with some bands doing that. I’m also cool with other bands not doing it. Cannibal Corpse is a great example of a band I enjoy largely because they continue to write and release Cannibal Corpse sounding songs. Perhaps it’s a dependability thing. What I am trying to get to with this long-winded tangent is that Satan’s Hallow isn’t doing anything new or more different here than any other traditional heavy metal act that came before them. However, what they are doing is taking the wheel that already exists and making it one the best damn wheels I’ve ever seen (err, uh, heard).

As someone who considers traditional heavy metal his favorite sub-genre of metal, there are a few key things that I am always paying a lot of attention to (and I would assume to not be the only one in this camp):

1.Riffs
2.Guitar solos
3.Vocals (preferring great singers, obviously, but mostly just don’t distract from 1 and 2)

Satan’s Hallow crushes all three out of park. And we’re talking like April 30, 2017, when Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals [Major League Baseball team] went 6/6 with 3 HR and 10 RBI.

Aside: Is it a coincidence that this performance came just two days after the physical release of this very Satan’s Hallow album? Probably.

Nonetheless, this album is littered with super catchy headbanging riffs, speed-gliding wailing impressive guitar solos, and powerful energetic vocals. Then to cap it all off, the bass and drums are doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the background to let those three aspects of the band stand out and shine (though when they are given a little “lead”-time, like on the song “Still Alive”, they totally bring it).

Do you like catchy riffs? I, myself, love catchy riffs, and there are a lot of them on this album. The opening riffs in the songs “Hot Passion” (the only song, music-wise, not penned solely by guitarist Von Jugel) and “The Horror” are great examples of riffs that you just can’t help but get hooked on. We can also throw in all of the awesome dual guitar leads, one of my favorites occurring just before the verses in the song “Choir of the Cursed” (I also really like the riff played during the verses of the song). There is no shortage of riffs here, and if you need riffs, please look here within.

Some people deride the notion of bands having a guitar solo 2/3 of the way through songs. Too predictable they say. Well, as someone who puts way too much stock into guitar solos, I depend on that predictability. I love knowing and anticipating the solo. Get me energized with a good song, and then pull into 5th gear for a wicked solo, and I swoon. Satan’s Hallow does a really good job of feeding me what I want. Every song has at least one guitar solo, and only one song (“Hot Passion”) has just one -- and if you want to count “soloing sections” as opposed to individual solos, there are still 3 songs with more than one “soloing section”. Point being, there is a lot guitar soloing on this album. Not only that, but we get solos from both guitarists, and each have their own style; Steve "Lethal" Beaudette is aptly name as he is a little more “shred-y”, and Von Jugel is a little more “feeling”, if I force myself into simple/vague one-word descriptions. All of the solos in the title track are some of my favorites (also the solos in “Beyond the Bells”, “Reaching for the Night” and “Choir of the Cursed” -- and really just all of them, all of the solos, all of them, seriously).

Mandy Martillo’s vocals are really great. They are full of energy. They sound passionate. They boom with power. Air-guitaring, air-drumming, getting me to do those things isn’t too terribly difficult. Air-singing though, that’s a tougher feat to pull off. Yet, there are numerous times that I feel compelled to mouth the lyrics along with the songs (“Beyond the Bells” having the strongest tractor beam in this regard). They’re just “classically good” vocals, and they significantly enhance the overall sound of the band.

I think the most negative thing I could say about this album is that three songs, “Black Angel”, “Moving On”, and “Still Alive” (for me), are not as good as the rest of the songs. We’re talking degrees here though. We’re talking A and A- instead of A+. Sometimes a collection of great songs makes for a superb album, and this debut full-length is the epitome of that idea. This album benefits from never attempting to do anything except rock, and they succeed wildly. Nearly five months now since first hearing this album, I have no doubt in my mind that it is an all-time favorite. Thank you, Satan’s Hallow.

Still Alive; How Fitting - 85%

SweetLeaf95, May 22nd, 2017

Stumbling upon something like this is always going to have me guessing what it's gonna sound like before even giving it a go. Anytime I catch wind of a newer traditional metal band, it's inevitable that it has to be checked out. Upon first listen of this, the vocals caught me extremely off-guard, but I mean that in a good way. Obviously until recently, the name Mandy Martillo never rang a bell, but I've certainly never heard a voice like this one. The way that she is able to carry such a melodic tune and stay on key while keeping up with the fast groundwork of the riffs is super impressive. Even on the slower moments, such as the beginning of the title track "Satan's Hallow", the unique overlay is still present, despite dropping the range down.

Another surprising factor was how upbeat it all sounds. With an album (and band) titled Satan's Hallow, the first thing that pops into my head is deep, doomy, stormy riffs. Did this ever prove me wrong, as "Reaching For The Night" busts out fast, upbeat guitar parts that you could find in any NWOBHM record at the time. This stays consistent throughout, no signs of doom anywhere. Every riff and solo is clean and crystal clear, due to such a fine production. Despite this, there's not a lot that the bass has to offer, but the lead guitar draws enough attention to it to make up for that. "Moving On" displays some of the best guitar team work, fading out of a very energetic solo with a hard, crunchy riff to re-introduce a powerful vocal return.

There isn't much else to elaborate on, seeing that this is probably the most straightforward record of the year, and other reviewers basically nailed it all. Don't let that turn you off, because it doesn't drag on, and executes what was intended perfectly. A must listen for any fan of the early metal acts.

Everybody shut up, I found the new "thing" - 94%

BastardHead, May 2nd, 2017

Every year, there's a new traditionally styled heavy metal band that just takes MA inexplicably by storm. Last year Sumerlands and Eternal Champion fought for the title, the year prior it was Visigoth, and before then we had In Solitude, Portrait, Hell, Briton Rites, et cetera forever. It's always fun to see who the new "flavor of the year" is going to be, because I get caught up in the hype as well and wind up liking damn near every band that wins the Fluke New Old School Hit Sweepstakes. Well last month, the signs start showing as I notice the burgeoning hype train for Satan's Hallow. Considering they're from my home(ish)town, I figured I better get the jump on them. Y'all know my predilection for anything from Chicago or the surrounding areas (it's how I found out Smash Potater was actually awesome and not some effortless joke, for example). Plus, it's important to me to predict their eventual overtaking of High Spirits as the current Cult Heroes of Chicago if they're really that good.

Yeah holy fucking Christ on a cracker, Satan's Hallow delivers.

I was taken aback in the opening seconds. I like old school heavy metal as well as anybody, but man there's always something special when you can catch a band that so distinctly nails the sounds and idiosyncrasies of the decade without falling into the traps of easy cliches. No way, Satan's Hallow sounds straight out of the early 80s, but not because they're just tracing over an already-successful painting. This self titled debut is a work of art in its own right, merely taking the foundation of early trad metal in the vein of Judas Priest and Accept and just punching it in the face as hard as possible as opposed to just dressing up in a costume and ripping them off instead. It's such a basic thing but a surprising amount of bands somehow completely drop the ball in that regard.

Anyway, the important thing here is that these dudes bring it hard. One thing that stands out right off the bat are the vocals, which are drawing a lot of comparisons to Warlock and the assorted bands that burst through the floodgates opened by Doro Pesch based entirely on the fact that the band is female fronted. Now, a similarity is there, don't get me wrong, but Martillo here takes a slightly different approach that warrants a distinction. She doesn't belt out quite as hard or as rough as Doro may, but she makes up for it with sheer energy and enthusiasm. There's a very tight and nearly imperceptible falsetto to a lot of these screams, which adds to the completely unhinged nature of the music. It's like she's just about to fall apart completely, she's singing her heart out in such a manic and Heavy Fucking Metal way, I love everything about it. It's very theatrical, much like David Bower from Hell.

In fact, Hell is a very good comparison for the band in general. That theatricality of the band is showcased in every aspect while managing to remain grounded and unpretentious. Think Iron Maiden at their best. The bass is prominent and gallops liberally, while guitar melodies float above every song like a marionette's strings, guiding and propelling the band forwards at every opportunity. There's a damn evil atmosphere here as well, just languidly hanging over the music in a way that complements the journey as opposed to wrestling the propulsive heavy metal out of the spotlight, just everything they do somehow hits bullseye.

I don't want to keep comparing this to obvious classic bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but I'll be damned if the influence isn't strong and the quality isn't comparable. Listen to "Still Alive". That's straight up a lost Maiden track from the Powerslave sessions. Listen to "Hot Passion". That's straight up a lost Priest track from the Defenders of the Faith sessions. Listen to "Choir of the Cursed", that's straight up a lost Mercyful Fate track from the Melissa sessions. I could do this all night, these guys own their influences with aplomb. There are no apologies to be found anywhere here, it's just straight ahead, bare-knuckle heavy metal overflowing with solos and a boatload of attitude. I can't even fault it for nearly every song sounding the same (with the exception of "Still Alive", which takes a slower and more atmospheric approach), because they all completely smoke. The furious closer, "Beyond the Bells" currently stands as my favorite track, but I feel like it could change at a moment's notice, considering I think "Reaching for the Night", "Hot Passion", "Black Angel", and damn near every other song is equally as strong.

I can't stop gushing, this is everything an old school metalhead should want. Guitar pyrotechnics, more melodies than I can even begin to fathom, a frantic and wild vocal performance, and some of the strongest songwriting I've heard since Visigoth first crushed my skull two years ago. I know it's early in the year, but this is already a serious contender for Album of the Year. I've heard good albums this year, I've heard some damn good albums in 2017, but only Satan's Hallow has so far delivered so strongly that I had to pencil it in for the top spot. Charging riffs, immutable attitude, unapologetic energy, and super tight songwriting that delivers a loose, fun, and undeniably raw experience. Get on this hype train, I'm the fucking conductor now.

Also we really need to talk about how much the bassist looks like Lloyd Christmas.


Originally written for Lair of the Bastard

On This Night Between Four Walls of Doom - 94%

CHAIRTHROWER, April 26th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Underground Power Records (1st Edition)

Windy City rivet heads, young and old alike, have cause to rejoice thanks to Satan’s Hallow and its self-titled debut released on April Fools Day by Underground Power Records. Far from a joke, this Chicago based quintet is nothing less than the genuine article in terms of unpretentious and passionately delivered “old school” heavy metal.

Opener “Reaching for the Night” sets the album’s tone with the same vigorous flair as say Witchfinder General or Pagan Altar from days of old, wasting no time in taking the listener on a compelling trip down metal's memory lane with its hard-driving no frills approach. You’d think this was recorded back in '83! This is raw, “meat and potatoes” heavy metal, devoid of frivolities and certainly proving its merit by way of instant appeal and high replay ability. The lead guitar playing in particular gets right down to business in terms of creative phrasing, skilled technique and spot-on timing. Spectacular musicianship aside, Satan’s Hallows’ front woman makes quite an impression right off the bat. Her vocals are comparable to Night Viper’s: passionate direct, and devoid of silly “metal queen” nonsense. They’re also tinged with a subtle warble, lending a slight banshee-like appeal to her voice, which fits right in with the music and the band’s overall mood. This is quite pronounced on the two and a half minute long “The Horror”. Her eerie crooning on the chorus put me under her spell, to say the least:

“Don't meet her gaze, don't be a fool
Cover your face and feel the wind –so cruel
Reaching out through the dark night
She will meet her end in your mirror
Just turn away from the eyes of The Horror!”

Alternatively, she goes straight for the jugular on “Hot Passion”, which features kick-ass, mood-lifting lyrics. The third verse in particular leaps right out at you: “Hot lights, stage fright / I’m gonna strip the paint from the walls/ Scorched earth, live birth/ I’m gonna fly before I fall”. Of equal import is the rapid succession of natural harmonics which follows the first and fourth verses, as it blows me away every time. If this gem fails to get you pumped, we may as well tag your toe and shut the drawer.

“Black Angel”, is another humdinger which gets my blood pumping and makes me want to throw my fist in the air. The main riff is laid back and forthright at the same time, and features more priceless barn burning on behalf of the guitarists (they're definitely at the top of their game on these back-to-back tracks). Yet, their chemistry is so good it’s hard to distinguish between the two. The rhythm section is no slouch either and provides a welcome backbone to the album’s crisp, treble oriented production.

As inferred by the other reviews (“You've Chosen Black, I Go with White” and "Killer Debut") Satan’s Hallow goes above and beyond most “so called” traditional metal bands. In fact, this welcome discovery brings me back to when I was six and stumbled upon my older cousin’s vinyl copy of “Defenders of the Faith”. As a curious and impressionable little kid, I was like: “Whoa! This is ‘Heavy Metal!’ Satan’s Hallow’s self-titled debut provides a similar nostalgic feeling. In essence, this roughly half hour/ nine track effort is imbued with a seldom found atmosphere and, to quote Twisted Psychology, “is energetic, catchy and fun”. I’d also recommend this release to fans of older female fronted bands in the same vein as Girlschool or Phantom Blue as well as present day luminaries Huntress, Lady Beast, and the above mentioned Night Viper. Rest assured Satan’s Hallow gives them all a good run for their money.

Killer Debut - 95%

mjollnir, April 25th, 2017

Bands that are considered part of the The New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal, otherwise known as NWOTHM (seems that us metalheads have a fondness for abbreviating our movements) are usually hit or miss when it comes to actual songwriting and the ability to pull it off without sounding like a gimmick. Chicago’s Satan’s Hallow just released their debut, self titled, full length album and, while not bringing anything new to the table, they allow their songwriting to do the talking. This album has all the ingredients for being a true throwback; short album length and shorter song lengths, initially being released on vinyl, etc.

A perfect example of this is the album opener, “Reaching for the Night.” This is one of those traditional powerhouse metal album openers from yesteryear….except it’s from this year! Female vocalist Mandy Martillo brings an old school Doro Pesch vibe to the music on this album so right away you get the idea that this band means business. This is a speedy number with twin leads riffs opening it up. The guitar solos are godly and the tone of the guitars during the solos is perfect. In fact, the entire album has an old school sound in the recording. Such an organic sound gives this album more of an honest feel to it. By the end of the opener you’re pumped up ready for more.

What sets this band apart from a lot of the so called throwback bands is that they can write a killer metal song that can stand side by side with any of the classics of the 80s. “Black Angel” just kicks ass from beginning to end. A riff laden mid pacer that’s impossible not to love it’s so damn catchy. The solos shred having lead battles before morphing into dual leads; I’m getting goosebumps listening to it now. “Moving On” actually reminds me of a speedy Diamond Head song. The vocal melodies have that feel to them and once again the solos shine. The title track has a catchy main riff that will have you headbanging and throwing the horns within the first ten seconds. “Still Alive” is a scorcher that is a more slow to mid paced song but is almost epic in it’s feel. The dual lead riffs provide melody and the chorus is catchy as fuck.

I just discovered this band a week or so ago and already this album is in regular listening rotation. Just thirty four minutes in length it will leaving you wanting more but there’s more metal in that thirty four minutes than in a skyscraper. This is an album I would recommend to any metal fan. This is a classic in the making and I am already looking forward to their sophomore release.


The Elitist Metalhead

You've Chosen Black, I Go With White - 95%

Twisted_Psychology, April 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Underground Power Records (Bandcamp)

The early to mid-80s are seen as a simpler time for heavy metal, but it might be more appropriate to say that things were just more ambiguous back then. It was a time when extremities were developing beyond their infancy but descriptors like black and power metal were used more often as arbitrary lyrical tags than they were to describe musical content. Plenty of bands nowadays emulate that era but very few of them approach the sincerity that Satan’s Hallow of Chicago exerts at full force on their full-length debut.

As “Reaching for the Night” kicks things off in a speedy fashion, it’s made immediately clear that Satan’s Hallow has no interest in tongue in cheek winks to the audience. That is not to say the group is a dead serious, “no fun allowed” band but rather that they don’t treat their style and influences like novelties the way that a lot of their peers tend to do. The songs throughout channel plenty of influence from Riot and Warlock among countless others and the presentation mixes the anthemic and the macabre without a single trace of irony to be found.

In addition, Satan’s Hallow stands out for their incredibly energetic performances. The vocal performance demands the most attention as they shriek like an American Doro Pesch in her prime but the music sticks out further due to the constantly upbeat drumming, gritty bass work, and twin guitars that are both melodic and dark. The production also has a nice best of both worlds setup, managing to not have too much of that modern polish but also avoiding the tinny tone associated with some of the more obscure 80s classics.

But what really makes the band stand out is the fact they remembered to make the songs on their debut both varied and catchy as hell. Just about every type of early 80s track is represented though the bulk of them such as “Hot Passion” and “Beyond the Bells” have the street flair of Riot and Accept. In addition, the band’s title song is a bouncy Mercyful Fate-style horror show and “Still Alive” almost reaches early Dokken with its more subdued tempo and melodicism. It’s even more astounding when you consider that the album’s nine songs are delivered in just a little over thirty-four minutes.

Satan’s Hallow is a safe recommendation for anyone who has a love for anything resembling 80s metal. While many of their peers seem to be patting themselves on the back for merely existing, this group goes the extra mile to deliver a debut that is energetic, catchy, and fun. There is no hesitation when I say that this is one of the most refreshing old school albums that I’ve heard in some time and Satan’s Hallow is a group that I hope to keep rooting for in the future.

Highlights:
“Reaching For The Night”
“Hot Passion”
“Satan’s Hallow”
“Still Alive”
“Beyond the Bells”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com