Genre: Hardcore, Thrash
Release Date: October 11th 2011
Record Label: Rise Records
Slightly a year removed from their previous full-length Weight of the World, This is Hell is back with newfound fury and passion with Black Mass – a thrash-sparked record of feverish drumming and blazing guitar solos that breathes new life into a band that has seemingly fallen under the radar in the past few years. It isn’t to say they were never good in the first place, but This is Hell have found something particularly special in the creation of Black Mass – something only a visit to the gnarly days of thrash could produce.
After hearing the ominous melodies leading off the title track when this record was promoted via viral marketing last month, it was easy to say that there was going to be something different about this record. This is Hell weren’t kidding when they said they were going for a throwback thrash sound, as tracks like “Salt the Earth”, “Black Mass” and “The Last Outlaw” are ripe with grungy guitar licks and hammering drums backed by Travis Reilly’s raw vocals. Sounding confident and tactful in their execution, This is Hell embody the sound without completely losing their hardcore leanings (“The Reckoning”), splicing in moments of buzzing breakdowns and relentless verses to bolster the intensity that Black Mass brings from front to back. Whether its the haunting breaks in “Black Mass” or the drawn out melodies ending “The Wars – Part One”, the overall aura of the record is hard to deny, regardless of the methods this band brings it to us. Even the slowed down shredding of “The Last Outlaw” gets owned by the band, giving some emphasis to bigger vocal lines with Reilly’s raspy voice fitting nicely in the mix.
In a matter of minutes, the energy of Black Mass is apparent through deliberate abrasion and dangerously ‘80s-metal guitar solos. Rick Jimenez certainly wastes no time here, as his leads are showcased through the record. While certainly entertaining in their own right, they feel more like icing on the cake for the type of feel Black Mass portrays – gritty hardcore meets old-school flavor that This is Hell seem to have gotten do to an art. Reilly’s vocals aren’t just buzzing to fit in either – his pleading approach is evident in lines like ‘Jesus fucking christ, how was I so blind?’, only a hint of proof that the emotion of hardcore is just as sharp on this record.
But in all of its glory, does Black Mass overdo what it sets out to sound like? Granted, This is Hell sound like they’ve been doing it this way for years, but sometimes you get the feeling like its over the top at points. It might be the guitar solos, or it could be the narrow focus of the album. It’s obviously too early to know whether or not the band will continue is some way down this trail, but if they do it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here to take this sound to another level. In any case, in this day and age of hardcore, This is Hell took a chance to do something a little different and have left little doubt to the strength and accessibility of this record.
While certainly a bold move for the band, it was a calculated one that definitely has paid off in the final product that is Black Mass. This is Hell have always done the genre right, but this time around we hear them turning hardcore into something many have tried, but few can pull off with out many a snag in the proceedings. Black Mass might pull old fans out of the dead, or it could bring new fans looking for a fresh twist on an old sound. Regardless, this record slays with unbridled energy and strong songwriting, making it possibly the best thing to come out of hardcore this year.
- Acid Rain
- Black History
- Salt the Earth
- Black Mass
- The Wars Part One
- Mi Nombre
- The Last Outlaw
- The Reckoning
- The Wars Part Two