Friday, January 20, 2012

Hell: Human Remains (2011)


The story behind UK NWOBHM kind-of/would-be/now-finally-are legends Hell is an interesting one. They formed in 1982, recorded a handful of demos and a single, and then disbanded in 1987 after their label went under. The band faded into obscurity, followed with the suicide of guitarist Halliday.

Their almost-legend grew because Halliday taught Sabbat's Andy Sneap how to play. (That's the cruddy British Sabbat, of course, not the awesome Japanese Sabbat.) Eventually, Sneap got the band back together, more than 20 years after their collapse, taking on Halliday's role in the band. After Sabbat vocalist Martin Walkyier left (thankfully) they recruited David Bower, brother of guitarist/keyboardist Kev, to take the mic.

Their story is enough by itself to get people interested, but the music is strong enough to stand on its own merit. Most of the songs were written during the band's original tenure, so rather than being old school it's just plain old. Is it anything you haven't heard already? No, it's NWOBHM as usual, but it's very catchy. The highlight is "On Earth as It Is in Hell". The epic, synth-laden "The Devil's Deadly Weapon" and cheesy "The Quest" are also worthy of note. While I'm not often a fan of modern production (at least these days), it serves this release well.

However, they should have cut it off after "The Quest". The most celebrated release of the NWOBHM, The Number of the Beast, is only 40 minutes. Human Remains is over an hour. "Macbeth" is overblown, and "Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us" is dull, making up the weakest links on the record. Closer "No Martyr's Cage" doesn't do enough to justify its 9 minute run on a record that would be (without these three tracks) a satisfying 45 minutes of pure heavy metal.

The Verdict: This record is interesting based on its history as well as its quality, but drags out near the end. The first 8 tracks are definitely worth your money. I give Human Remains 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. You don't like the British Sabbat?

  2. No, not at all. I've heard them many times on the MetalCast, but I really don't like Walkyier's vocals.