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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.