Friday, April 25, 2014

Hell: Trilogy (2014 Compilation)

Long Is the Way, And Hard

I don't normally review compilations, but I'll make an exception from time to time. Hell (the U.S. band, not the U.K. one) has interested me for a long time, but it wasn't until Trilogy that I decided to dive in.

This comp consists of the band's three full-length records which were originally released on cassette (now all sold out). A release lasting nearly two and a half hours might seem a daunting prospect, especially when it comes at a handsome price (for an admittedly very attractive 4LP picture disc box set). But if I have to justify it to you, then you're probably not into developing a prestige cult vinyl collection.

Of course, you can still get digital versions of each album from the band's Bandcamp.

Hell (2009) established the one-man band as a sludge/doom powerhouse with five relatively short, not-so-sweet slabs of heavy. If Sleep had nightmares every time they closed their eyes, it might sound like Hell. That album stays in that mostly traditional mold until the closing track, a sort of seminar in creepy production techniques.

Hell II (2010) expanded the band's horizons. Long periods of drone, bass melody, and clean guitars. Most notably, it adds sorrowful black metal tremolo-picking in two of the album's four 10+ minute tracks. Hell III (2012) expands the template even further, in two 20-minute tracks that explore a whole lot of territory, both black metal and sludge/doom. Here, Hell takes on funeral doom and includes strings.

The unifying features of this discography are copious amounts of reverb and bile-filled vocals. The blend of black metal and doom is also intriguing, as are the percussive riffs on "Lethe" and "Mourn." But you should also take note of the dynamic nature of the songwriting here. I listened to all 144 minutes straight through, not once, but twice, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

This is a rare example of a truly cult band living up to the mystique.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Pesanta Urfolk

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