Hell Is For Heroes

Hell Is For Heroes

Written by: PP on 29/08/2007 02:30:56

Anybody remember the enormous media circus surrounding Hell Is For Heroes a few years back when they released their debut on EMI, a major label? Well I do. They were hailed as one of the saviors of British rock scene, emerging straight from the vivid Camden, North London music scene, and for a moment it really looked like they were about to take on the world. Regular features in Kerrang, videos on music television channels, and plenty of airplay in the radio guaranteed their shows filled to the limits with eager fans of their alternative breed of post-hardcore. Thereafter, however, things went downhill. My guess is that when the band started to fulfill their creative calling with more progressive vibes in their music, the label saw this as a threat to their profits and spaced the band out to a smaller subsidiary label, from which they were later dropped after a much less successful sophomore album. Burning Heart were quick to snap the band, and hence we are standing here today with a review of their third album, incidentally titled as "Hell Is For Heroes".

While the band has always enjoyed a bit of distance to the post-hardcore scene, the new self-titled album removes pretty much any indication that this band was ever part of that scene. Out with heavy riffs, in with space rock is pretty much the theme of the day, as the album is full of hypnotic chord repetitions that slowly progress into bigger, and bigger, and bigger until they finally explode in the end. There's a bit of Matthew Bellamy (Muse) in vocalist Scholsberg's grandeur clean voice, although it lacks the same range and omnipresent power that Matthew's magnificent voice possesses. The same applies to the instruments as well. They're approaching Muse through fainted melodies, though Hell Is For Heroes does not utilize any keyboards or piano at all. "Between Us" is a brilliant example of Scholsberg getting pretty darn close to the high range Matthew has, and the balladic but powerful guitars follow him closely through, allowing for further Muse parallels. None of this is surprising at all though when tracing through the band's back catalog, as the evolution of the band has always been pinpointed towards the "Absolution" era Muse, minus the keyboards. But who knows if those will come in handy on one of the future albums anyhow.

Despite the above, you shouldn't think of this as an album that sounds like Muse, because it really doesn't. It's kind of like a half-way point between the faster Foo Fighters style aggressive alternative rock and the slower Muse-ish epic melody. To encompass this idea further, the band has provided me with two excellent examples in the form of "----" and "To Die For", both (almost) entirely instrumental tracks allowing the listener to fully grasp what the band is trying to achieve here. Especially the latter, which actually opens the album, gives you a great lesson how music can be progressive without having to resort to the technical wankery of bands like Dream Theater. The music simply gets louder and louder, as the chord pattern gradually changes through the song, before the grand finale of all instruments exploding into one massive supernova of sublime melody bordering artistic perfection. Especially when Scholsberg's feedback-distorted voice finally arrives the song becomes golden. It's always bit of a risk to put a brooding five minuter as the opener of your album, but here it works as a brilliant introduction to the slightly Brit-pop stylish "Stranger In You", that's both powerful and catchy simultaneously.

By now I'm sure you've caught the drift so I won't hold you any longer. This ended up being quite a positive review, especially when keeping in mind that I was referring to this band as an 'overhyped' act four years ago. It turns out, their expressionist approach to alternative rock just hadn't blossomed to its full beauty yet. As such, if you find the new Muse slightly too artistic but appreciate the simpler melodies found on their earlier material, Hell Is For Heroes might just become your new favorite band.

Download: To Die For, Stranger In You, You've Got Hopes
For the fans of: Muse, Biffy Clyro, Yourcodenameis:Milo, Sparta
Listen: Myspace

Release date 11.06.2007
Golf Records/Burning Heart
Provided by Target ApS

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