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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):

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.