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Album Review: This Is Hell - 'Black Mass'

12 October 2011 | 6:42 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Bold and tenacious.

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This Is Hell are hardcore. Right!? While our best accounts and pinpointing analysis suggests so, fourth studio album 'Black Mass' certainly has its own thrash fetish sound going on too.

Having ditched Trustkill (under mutual terms) in favour of Rise Records prior to predecessor 'Weight of the World', This Is Hell feel and more importantly sound renewed, focused and purposeful. That Long Island, New York attitude, tenacity and swagger is still there, if not stronger, and the music seems louder and fiercer.

On a cursory listen it feels like This is Hell have been hanging out at old-school cavernous skate parks and listening to their fair share of 80's styled thrash and hardcore. It's this diet of all things fast and heavy that gives 'Black Mass' an undeniable tag. Essentially, full-length number four is characterised as rough and raw but in the best possible way.

If title track 'Black Mass' doesn't highlight the band's intent then the listener is probably not paying close enough attention. Similarly, opener 'Acid Rain' sets the tone with an assertive riff and dare we say Slayer-esque intro.

What 'Black Mass' has going for it is the fact that the tone is driving. Heavy music can become monotonous very quickly but the pulse and core of this release is powerful.

'Mi Nombre' is indicative of what preceded it. Fast, lucid and chaotic. While, 'The Last Outlaw' has that hardcore two-step feel going on. Every track is well-placed and doesn't deviate in the way of excessive indulgence. 'Demons' again is another highlight.

This album is an effective genre crossover and perhaps for that reason sees 'Black Mass' as more metal than hardcore (at least in a rhythmic sense) this time around. This studio release is a cohesive and delicate representation of a group that just wants to play music their way.

As the final note rings out the prevailing and instinctive response is "fuck that album was good". And for any band that is the best impact one could hope for.

'Black Mass' is a complete, almost definitive sonic account of why This Is Hell deserve recognition. Metal and hardcore fans alike should embrace this equally. It just feels like this studio album timed its release to perfection as there is currently a strong market for this sound. Time to get to the pit…

1. Acid Rain
2. Black History
3. Salt The Earth
4. Black Mass
5. The Wars: Part I
6. Mi Nombre
7. The Last Outlaw
8. Demons
9. The Reckoning
10. The Wars: Part II