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St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)

New Release Review — HELL “Curse & Chapter”

Look, a post!  And a review of a new release, to boot.  Don’t lose your shit over this.

spiky fuckin hell, baby

HELL (UK) – Curse & Chapter
Nuclear Blast Records
Release date: November 26, 2013

In three words: Flamboyant, Satanic NWOBHM.

What kills: Clean and skilled guitar work is the main draw; the approach is classic metal with touches of occult rock.  The production shines brightly and helps these songs work where needed, which for Curse & Chapter is unfortunately rare.  Some great riffs get absolutely ruined from time to time, which is to say at least they have some riffs to ruin.

What rots: HELL’s entire presentation is based around cutesy wordplay (think CRADLE OF FILTH) delivered by a drunken English schoolmaster.  That’s it.  That this bleeds into the songwriting so strongly (“The Age of Nefarious” — LOL, get it?  Sing it a few times to yourself) is unforgivably bad.  Very little here comes across as occult or even remotely dark.  What remains ends up sounding like a gaudy rock opera including the insertion of keyboard choirs, moog and synthesized piano for seemingly no reason.

What matters: You can tell HELL wrote this album with some care, but it’s hard to care a wit about it under the weight of their kitschy theatrics.  Stick to SATAN for true return-to-form NWOBHM, or KING DIAMOND circa Abigail for anything even remotely in the style HELL is attempting.  Or QUEEN if the fruity English thing is your bag.

Tell me more: Andy Sneap plays on this, as he also did on HELL’s 2011 “debut.”  SABBAT is pretty cool.

Disclaimer: I didn’t like their last album for the same reasons mentioned above.  If you liked it, you’ll be fine here.  And I still love you.

If I didn’t totally destroy your hopes for this one, Curse & Chapter will be available at Into the Void Records USA this coming Tuesday.

Cheers

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