For a band with such a simple name, Hell are one of the underground’s most recognizable and lauded acts. Their initial trilogy of albums, to say nothing of their splits with acts like Mizmor and Amarok, are regarded as some of the best doom metal ever written. For my money, Hell III is one of my all-time favorite doom metal albums, and I recommend it constantly to people. It is with great pleasure, then, that I get to finally talk about new music from this group, and to tell you that the band’s new album, Hell, continues on in the legacy of quality the band has built for themselves.
Hell is a vicious and snarling beast of an album, full of sludgy riffs that go straight for the throat. Part new album, part compilation, Hell pairs four new songs alongside “SubOdin” and “Inscriptus” from a 2015 7″ release and “Victus,” previously only available as a bonus track on a 2014 CD compilation of Hell’s trilogy. The songs here have a weight to them that other band’s attempt but few actually achieve. If one gravitates towards doom metal for the atmosphere it fosters, as I do, then it’s very easy to see why Hell are regarded as legendary among the scene, and why Hell keeps that status. Everything here, from the wailing feedback in “SubOdin,” to the sickening bent-note riff of opener “Helmzmen,” to long-time guest vocalist A.L.N.’s instantly recognizable shrieks serve to cultivate a singular eeriness that is untouchable by any other band.
The atmosphere is just one thing to love about Hell, however. Musically, Hell have found their niche on this album. All the best elements that made the trilogy as great as they were are condensed down into this album. The riffs kick as hard as anything from I, there are touches of blackened aggression a la II, and the band’s penchant for morose droning passages is still present as it was on III. This is everything that makes Hell great combined and refined into one cohesive experience.
Like their name, Hell’s music is simple yet strikingly emotive, and on their new album, the band lives up to any hype that one could have, no matter how loftily you regard the band’s past work. Hell will be undoubtedly one of the year’s most crushingly heavy albums, among doom metal and abroad. The king has returned.