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Hell - Human Remains

Human Remains
by Mike Novak at 10 June 2011, 12:05 PM

HELL is one of the many NWOBHM bands whose influence far outreached their album sales. In fact, before “Human Remains,” HELL had never had an official album release. Aside from a handful of demos and a single, they were never able to release a proper full-length. Their debut was planned for release in the mid-80’s, but two weeks before its release, the label collapsed. The band broke up shortly afterward, which led to vocalist/guitarist Dave Halliday’s suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

The band reformed in 2008 with Andy Sneap and Martin Walkyier of SABBAT fame filling in for Halliday. Walkyier then left before the album could be recorded, and was replaced by David Bower, whose brother is currently in the band and is one of the founding members. Sneap, in addition to playing guitar, also produces “Human Remains.”

All of the songs on this album are rerecorded from ones found on the 1982 demos (as well as a single from 1983). The songs generally stick to the blueprints found in the originals. However, the sound is immensely improved thanks to Sneap’s production job, which is reminiscent of what he did with ACCEPT’s “Blood of the Nations;” it is heavy and clear, while still retaining the grit of the originals and not sounding over-produced like the work of someone like Peter Wichers. Another surprise about “Human Remains” is how much attention is paid to the tracklist, both in choosing which songs to use on the album and their arrangements. “Human Remains” flows like a real album and does not sound like a bunch of rerecorded demos thrown together.

David Bower is quite the find. He has a theatrical quality to his voice that allows him to replicate the calculated insanity of David Halliday, with an added edge that makes his work irresistible. It would have been nearly impossible to find someone that could do the original material justice, but David Bower does just that throughout “Human Remains.”
Sneap does a fine job on guitar. He has stated in several interviews that Dave Halliday was a major inspiration for his guitar playing and here he does justice to Halliday’s parts. Sneap actually turned down producing the new MEGADETH album to perform with HELL; it’s obvious that his role on “Human Remains” means a great deal to him. Sneap and Bower (Kev) have plenty of twin leads and the guitar playing in general is quite solid.

Musically, there are a wide range of styles present. Fans of straightforward 80s metal will find plenty to enjoy, there are straightforward headbangers, epics and slower, churning songs. The variety keeps things interesting although the quality level is top-notch throughout. Although I was only mildly familiar with the demos before this came out, I honestly think that the HELL’s vision has been done justice. The songs are faithful enough to the originals while vastly surpassing them sonically. I can pretty safely say that this will be one of my top 5 albums of 2011.

4 Star Rating

1. Overture: Themes from "Deathsquad"
2. On Earth as it is in Hell
3. Plague and Fyre
4. The Oppressors (Race Against Time cover)
5. Blasphemy and the Master
6. Let Battle Commence
7. The Devil's Deadly Weapon
8. The Quest
9. Macbeth
10. Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us
11. No Martyr's Cage
David Bower - Vocals
Andy Sneap - Guitars
Kev Bower - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Tony Speakman - Bass
Tim Bowler - Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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