This Is Hell

Black Mass

Written by: AP on 19/11/2011 19:41:25

Over a short period of time which began with teetering on the edge of thrash with last year's "Weight of the World", it seems This is Hell have at last assimilated to a crossover climate on their fourth album "Black Mass", so much that the presence of any hardcore influence is now negligible beyond the vocals of Travis Reilly and the periodic gang shouts that accompany him. Instead, the band has harnessed its metallic tendencies with natural ease and ushered its way into the company of Municipal Waste and SSS. But will their fans embrace the change or desert?

Judging by the organic transition, This is Hell will have to suffer no such repercussions, as thrash metal seems to come to them as naturally as hardcore. The solos squeal and fly freely, the riffs induce compulsive headbanging, and the fast pace will undoubtedly drive many a mosher into a circle pit. It's no Suicidal Tendencies, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles or DYS, but still none of the awkward songwriting or sense of unease that usually accompanies genre-crossing transitions is audible in the likes of "Acid Rain", "Salt the Earth" and the title track, which actually sounds like a Metallica tune bar the vocals; songs that are certain to earn This is Hell support slots on prominent thrash metal tours in the years to come.

Of course the band's roots have not sunk into oblivion either, as the band has remembered to include more familiar material à la "Misfortunes", too, as sanctuaries for their hardened fans, "Demons" being the most notable example. But as on past releases, This is Hell uphold tradition with a record that has very few swerves to it, securing a firm hold on crossover thrash and showing no ambition to deviate from the formula throughout the album. This is both the best thing about "Black Mass" - it ensures that This is Hell do not come across as posers attempting to stir things up in order to appeal to a wider audience - and its greatest pitfall - the songs are not always easy to distinguish from one another.

Even so it is always refreshing to witness a band not shying away from evolving both in terms of their musicianship and interests. Hardcore fans may be disappointed by the near-total lack of chugging and breakdowns, but there is no doubt that the metalized riffs and countless solos of songs like "The Wars: Part One" & "Part Two" and "The Reckoning" will be a delight to certain segments of the hardcore and thrash metal scenes. The album is fast, heavy and uncompromising, and once it clocks in at 34 minutes you will undoubtedly find yourself chanting the lines "this is life and this is what we chose / we pledge the cause / we fight the wars" with your fist pumping the air.

Download: Acid Rain, Salt the Earth, Black Mass
For the fans of: D.R.I., Municipal Waste, SSS, Terror
Listen: MySpace

Release date 11.10.2011
Rise Records

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