This is Hell - Black Mass (Rise Records)

A triumphant dose of crossover brilliance...
Release Date: 
10 Oct 2011 - 11:30pm

Blimey. This was a surprise; coming from a PR company that generally seems to deal in sunny-tempered pop punk and the like, when MaF boss man Scott Adams passed this on to me I thought he’d made a juvenile, schoolboy-type error. And then opening track Acid Rain comes steaming out of the speakers and you’re swept away on a euphoric tide of what in the old days we used to call crossover. That is to say, rather tasty, metallically inclined hardcore that melds the best old school thrash with the best shouty uptempo punk without the nasty death metal vocals that spoil so many bands attempting this kind of stuff in 2011. The cookie monster roaring really takes away from whatever message the lyrics are pushing to my mind; and some snarling words delivered with conviction and clarity are always preferable to sheer woooaaarrrggghhhhh! In my book. Black History continues Acid Rain’s good work, dropping the tempo a bit without actually taking the foot off the gas if you get my drift… the song delivers a sound bludgeoning to the gonads in the best possible sense, with guitarist Rick Jimenez delivering a tasty solo to boot.

Salt the Earth is pure eighties thrash mayhem, riding in on a first-album vintage Slayer riff before setting off at warp speed and delivering the goods with awesome killing power – this is seriously entertaining stuff. These boys sure know all the moves – the title track is preceded by a classic classical guitar intro before steaming ahead all guns blazing in a style not too dissimilar from later day Onslaught (apart from vocalist Travis Reilly’s always-on-the-punk-side-of-the-fence shouting). The Wars: Part One is more straight-up street punk/hardcore but no less worthy for that; it just doesn’t carry the same sense of euphoria that the thrashier numbers seem to possess. Mi Nombre is, astonishingly, the sound of Agnostic Front jamming with height-of-his-addled-yet-brilliant-madness Mustaine and it is a fantastic piece of bile-fuelled spite. You need to hear it to fully appreciate its excellence.

It’s at this point – half a dozen tracks in – that you realize that This is Hell hasn’t yet put a vans-clad foot wrong. Next track The Last Outlaw comes close – it’s just a bit mundane, really, compared to the fury that’s preceded it, but this malaise doesn’t last long. Propelled by bassist Pieter van den Berg’s Lilkeresque four string rumblings the song sets things back on even keel with some serious aggression that again falls on the punk side of the moshometer. At just under a minute and a half it won’t get in the way of your enjoyment if denim and dandruff is more your thing, and besides, here comes The Reckoning and its edgy staccato riffage to feed the metal beast again before The Wars: Part Two adds an always-welcome slice of d-beat into the mix with some gang vocal delirium come chorus time.

In summary: A thrashtastic half hour of entertainment for all the family, especially if your family are fans of New York hardcore and old school thrash metal. .