Hell – Human Remains (2011, Nuclear Blast Records)
1. Overture: Themes from “Deathsquad” … 1:14
2. On Earth as it is in Hell … 5:09
3. Plague and Fyre … 5:09
4. The Oppressors … 5:53
5. Blasphemy and the Master … 8:11
6. Let Battle Commence … 4:23
7. The Devil’s Deadly Weapon … 10:14
8. The Quest … 4:21
9. Macbeth … 7:21
10. Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us … 5:05
11. No Martyr’s Cage … 9:00
David Bower – Vocals
Kev Bower – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Andy Sneap – Guitar
Tony Speakman – Bass
Tim Bowler – Drums
Producer: Andy Sneap
Human Remains is an album I had listened to late last year but I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. The story here is that Hell was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene in the early 1980s but never was able to get around to recording an album. They released a handful of demo tapes and 1 EP before splitting up in 1987. According to Wikipedia, they had signed with the Belgium label Mausoleum but the record company went bankrupt shortly before Hell was to record their debut.
Fast forward to 2008, the surviving original members of Hell (vocalist/guitarist Dave Halliday committed suicide shortly after the group’s disbandment in the ’80s) got together with Sabbat’s vocalist Martin Walkyier & guitarist Andy Sneap (who took guitar lessons from Halliday) to re-record some old Hell tunes for a proper album. After laying down vocals, it was decided Walkyier was not the right man for the job so Kev Bower’s brother David Bower stepped in to re-record Walkyier’s vocals (who had been re-recording the vocals of Dave Halliday!).
I’m actually quite surprised by how little attention this album has received. Even though Metal Hammer magazine has listed it as #6 on their best albums of 2011 list, I haven’t really seen many people talk about this album. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Though the band seemingly does not like the NWOBHM tag (their Facebook page states their genre as “HELL”), they definitely play in that style while adding other metal elements such as thrash, speed, goth, black, power and symphonic.
I wasn’t even aware of Hell until this release. There are so many NWOBHM bands that came and went without having released a debut album, it’s hard to keep track! When I looked at the album cover and heard that guitarist/producer Andy Sneap was involved, I figured this was going to be really heavy stuff. Something that would be too heavy for my ears. Luckily, it isn’t and don’t let the imagery, lyrics or the over the top vocal theatrical performance of David Bower fool you — it’s all done tongue in cheek.
A couple of the songs are way too long: “Blasphemy and The Master”, “The Devil’s Deadly Weapon” (10 minutes!) and “No Martyr’s Cage” but even those songs have moments worth exploring. The band is definitely are their best with a straight ahead NWOBHM headbangers like “The Quest”.
And of course, the production is absolutely fantastic. Lots of stuff going on here to give atmosphere. That’s expected when you have Andy Sneap on board who has earned a reputation as one of heavy metal’s best producers.
An obscure gem from just last year, Human Remains should be picked up and listened to by fans of Priest, Maiden, Venom and Mercyful Fate. Here’s hoping this isn’t a one-off and Hell will continue to reign over us for quite some time to come!
Highlights: “On Earth As It Is In Hell”, “The Oppressors”, “Let the Battle Commence”, “The Quest”, “Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us”