Hell Within

Shadows Of Vanity

Written by: TL on 22/07/2007 00:02:39

It had to happen. An album came along with a quality level so surprising that I instantly felt bad about having postponed it's review for so long. That album is Hell Within's "Shadows Of Vanity", and the reason its coolness snuck up on me must be that the much-debated over saturation of the metalcore scene had lulled me into a nice little prejudice about the genre rarely having anything to offer. Well if that's true then this is one of those rare moments where it does.

As to display their style the band opens the record with a straightforward batch of balls-to-the-walls metal'n'roll. The fast paced riffage switches between punk-ish drumming and metallic pedal-domination quickly joining forces with the raw singing/growling/screaming vocals and puts up a sign in your head saying "Yeeees, this is metalcore alright". Despite some pretty catchy lyrics however we're not yet treated to anything that knocks us on our backs with amazement. There's something about the otherwise catchy chorus that doesn't work 100% and the evasive problem draws too much attention. Fortunately the following "My Exit In Red" fixes the flaws in the formula and seems more convincing, but it's still nothing compared to what suddenly happens on the next track "Lay Down Your Arms", which also happens to be the best track on the CD, at least in the ears of this reviewer. The track fully exploits dynamics as it progresses seamlessly from awesome part to awesome part at a breakneck speed and wraps you up in it's gangshout-backed chorus-line. Need I say that it also contains a blazing mini-solo?

The really refreshing thing about this album is that it totally abandons the popular metalcore trends of either trying to sound overly epic and melodic or trying to be the heaviest hard ass on myspace. The crunchy guitars and vocals that sound kind of like Matt Heafy's on Trivium's "The Crusade" create an atmosphere that, much like Trivium, reminds you of the good old Metallica-days when there was still something distinctly rock'n'roll-ish to the metal sound, and the cool thing is that these guys avoid sounding as much like a tribute band as Trivium sometimes do. The attitude can be thought of as a deflated version of Avenged Sevenfold, concentrated on making heads bang rather than being described as an epic experience.

Returning to the specific tracks, apart from "Lay Down Your Arms", the albums other highlights can be found in the similar "The Spiral" and in "Between The Dead And The Deceived" where the singing is abandoned altogether, and the resulting scream/growl assault gives me nightmares of Bring Me The Horizon all over again. Unfortunately, these songs and a few more form the better half of the album, meaning that yes, there is also a worse half, composed of songs that aren't entirely up to the task of standing alone. As these are more likely to blend together in your head after listening, my grading has to reflect the room for improvement that's present, so while "Shadows Of Vanity" is surprisingly awesome in some places, it doesn't quite make it above the "promising"-category of albums.

Download: Lay Down Your Arms, The Spiral, Between The Dead And The Deceived
For the fans of: Trivium, Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica
Listen: MySpace

Release Date 21.05.2007
Lifeforce Records
Provided by Target ApS

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