Hell - Human Remains

This is an album that should excite many longtime heavy metal fans - Hell's debut is 24 years overdue, originally intended to be recorded and released sometime in 1987 before their label collapsed, which led to the band's split and thusly the sad loss of singer David Halliday. As of 2008, the band reformed with the reknowned Andy Sneap on guitar (if you don't know who Andy is, why are you here?) and second guitarist Kevin Bower's brother David taking up vocal duties - finally releasing "Human Remains" in May 2011.

For a band that formed at the start of the eighties (and some songs here being written as far back as 1982), this album sounds incredibly fresh. It's evident that time hasn't taken it's toll on these songs, as tracks like 'Plague and Fyre' and 'Let Battle Commence' are as energetic, sinister and fun as one could hope to expect - they've retained the eighties charm, yet they're given a new lease of life via Andy Sneap's production techniques and David Bower's vocals which, perhaps unsurprisingly, almost make this record sound like a Sabbat album as David's vocals are very similar to Martin Walkyier's in places. All tracks present here create an incredible atmosphere fo the listener, thanks to the use of keyboards in certain sections (mostly for a more ambient background than anything else), but also the ten minute track in the form of 'The Devil's Deadly Weapon' showcases a grand sense of epicness (is that even a word?) that certainly creates an illusion for the listener in a way that's far from commonplace in heavy metal. The band are almost moving into thrash metal territories in some instances, and yet they still manage to muster up enough atmosphere (that word again) to restrain it from being so... an impressive feat indeed.

It's difficult to say much about "Human Remains", mostly due to how broad it's content is. There's an awful lot going on, and spending most of the review filling in on the details of each track will only ruin a fantastic listening experience. One major downside to the album however, is it's length - it's an extremely long album, with most tracks breaching the five minute mark, one at seven, three breaking eight minutes and one more at over ten. For an album with eleven tracks, this can be a bit much for the casual listener as most tracks 'bleed' into each other and demand to be listened to in continuity. Alas, the album should always be listened to from start to finish (all albums should be heard this way), but with the aforementioned length it can make you grow impatient. This aside, Hell have managed to make a fantastic album that gives their older material a much needed yet respectful revamp, and it's just what metal needs right now - a NWoBHM album at heart, with tendencies of speed metal and black metal spread throughout. Let's hope they can give us another, more refined record without another 24 year wait!

1. Overture: Themes From "Deathsquad"
2. On Earth As It Is In Hell
3. Plague And Fyre
4. The Oppressors
5. Blasphemy And The Master
6. Let Battle Commence
7. The Devil's Deadly Weapon
8. The Quest
9. Macbeth
10. Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us
11. No Martyr's Cage
Reviewer: Dave Ingram Jr.
Sep 12, 2011

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