07 July 2014
by Gavin Lloyd
For those unaware The Hell first emerged at the tail end of last year. An album of snotty, down tuned, aggro punk loaded with swearing released for free. Tongues soon started wagging as to who these mystery men actually were, the addition of a few familiar faces on the album cover only bolstered interest, and they soon became the hype band of the month, with various industry folk tweeting hyperbole over them.
It was hard to know what to make of them; while there was talk of this being a big experiment to see how far a band could get with no label, management, PR, booking agent, etc, and articles about them “saving hardcore”, it also felt like this was a just a bit of a joke getting out of hand. Fast-forward to the present day and that aforementioned experiment proves to be a lie or massively hypocritical as the band release their new album Groovehammer through Prosthetic Records while having a hefty management, PR and booking team behind them. This is the band’s chance to really prove themselves as more than a “joke” band.
Yet the band clearly want to build on the LOLZ of their first album as their swearing-a-lot schtick is ever present, but it already feels like the joke is getting old. Although they’re trying their best to raise a giggle or two with song titles like ‘Bangers and Mosh’ and ‘We Love Dicks’, they make Steel Panther sound like Reeves and Mortimer.
Obviously none of this matters as long as the music is good. The first album had its moments, and this album starts decent enough with the likes of ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Old Jacks/New Jacks’ being inoffensive in their offensiveness. Meanwhile the album’s title track proves the major highlight, unsurprisingly full of groove and pretty much what the term “banger” was invented for; it’s a rare glimpse into them justifying the hype.
On the whole though, The Hell’s formulaic music turns old and stale as fast as their joke does. Unless you’re listening intently to pick out all the chocolate bar references of ‘I’ll Snap Your Fucking Head Clean Off’ there isn’t anything to hold your attention. It feels rushed – like the band just bashed a handful of songs out and stuck them on an album – and doesn’t do any favours to the notion that they are just a joke.
Ultimately The Hell are the embodiment of everything you should hate about music in 2014 – bands getting a leg up from friends in high places, unfounded hype, and stupid gimmicks all taking precedence over writing good songs. It’d be easy to feel even more down about it, if it wasn’t for the fact that the lack of songs ultimately leads to this being a flash in the pan that nobody will give a fuck about in 12 months time.
Sounds Like: Gallows, TRC, childish nonsense.
Standout Tracks: Groovehammer