Produced by Andy Sneap
If you haven't heard of NWOBHM legends Hell, then really – don't worry, you haven't lost your touch. Unless you were around the metal scene during the early 80s, a NWOBHM aficionado, or simply kept up with the recent hype, chances are the band are unknown to you. Despite a highly creative (albeit, not particularly well produced) set of demos and singles, the band were never able to secure a record contract and release an album. The band ultimately came to an end when singer/guitarist Dave Halliday took his own life in 1987. Over twenty years later, the band have reformed alongside Sabbat guitarist Andy Sneap, as well as vocalist David Bower, to revisit and re-record several of the band's better known songs.
Human Remains shows all the evidence of a band who really should have been bigger than they were. Whilst the band have all the hallmarks of a straight up NWOBHM band (check out lead single On Earth As It Is In Hell – a full on perfect blast of traditional heavy metal), their music also has much more creativity than most of their peers. There's also a rather occult feel to their music, separating it from the rest of the pack.
What makes this album special though – or rather the original songs themselves – is that each song sounds distinct and individual. Hell didn't just rehash the same song over and over. Hell had ideas – dark and twisted on the gloomy Blasphemy, or the synth-driven rock of The Devil's Deadly Weapon (complete with a cameo from Dani Filth on the intro), through to bright, harmonized hard rocking on The Quest. All the while still having the ripping metal tracks that make up the bulk of the band's sound.
At the same time, the band seem to have a wealth of lyrical ideas. Certainly the band keep to the occult themes suggested by their moniker, but their words aren't so much praising evil, but rather addressing evil. Sometimes these themes are based in history – Plague And Fyre dealing with the Great Plague and the following Great Fire of London, for example – though they also deal with evils more modern (Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us being preceded by news snippets about pedophiles in the Church). This is refreshing (amusingly so for songs so old) when contrasted with the serious and cringe-worthy preaching of the black metal scene.
The album is certainly very well produced – a major change from the band's early demos. This might potentially alienate those who have romantic attachments to their poorly produced early sound. Frankly those people will get over it, and if they don't, well the original demos come with the release as well, so in all honesty it is a win-win for everyone. For those that did not grow up with the band's demos, it stands as an album that all newer heavy metal bands should be looking towards. With inspired songs such as these collected together, there simply is no excuse for other bands to write the generic garbage that they do. This is how it should be done.
In the end, Human Remains will leave you mystified as to why the band didn't get a break in the first place. Dave Halliday clearly had real talent and his suicide is a loss to us all; it is a terrible shame that he didn't live to see his songs brought back to life by his fellow band mates. Hopefully the rest of his fellows can see the band through to the success they deserved.
“ each song sounds distinct and individual ”
Tracklist: Overture: Themes from 'Deathsquad' / On Earth As It Is In Hell / Plague And Fyre / The Oppressors / Blasphemy And The Master / Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us / The Devil's Deadly Weapon / The Quest / Macbeth / Let Battle Commence / No Martyr's Cage
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