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Hellwell - Beyond the Boundaries of Sin

Beyond the Boundaries of Sin
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 28 June 2012, 3:27 PM

Since I started reviewing albums I have never really paid that much attention to sound productions. There were minor occurrences where I would dwell on it but not in a way that it would actually lead me to lower grades. I am sure you know that there are productions that are just hard to digest while being a total headache. On the other hand, after listening to the debut album of HELLWELL I must say that it was a really hard experience for me when it came down to the sound. I promise to put my weight on it later. “Beyond the Boundaries of Sin” comes as the first album under the side project of the current MANILLA ROAD guitarist / vocalist, Mark “The Shark” Shelton along with E.C. Hellwell, which played some of the bass & vocals on the latest MANILLA ROAD album. Actually, this debut album’s theme is based upon a short story written by Hellwell with tons of inspirations from H.P. Lovecraft,Edger Allan Poe and other Fantasy & Horror legends. I assumed that the “Beyond the Boundaries of Sin” venture, via High Roller Records, meant to be different than the usual MANILLA ROAD adventures of Epic Metal, and in a way it did, not that stirring from what was already there helped the album that much, but maybe it didn’t have to work in the first attempt.

Melodically, HELLWELL is rough switch of the Epic Metal programme of MANILLA ROAD towards hazy boundaries that tended to become tainted, uneven and raw. There were plenty of aspects about the album, like the Keyboards / Synth for example, that made the album sound like a mere 70s album, a sort of a heavier version of DEEP PURPLE meets KING CRIMSON while proposing reminders to the old BLACK ROSE band. Within “Beyond the Boundaries of Sin” you will bear witness to a package deal of weirdness, haunting tales from beyond routed into a single concept, which by the way didn’t quite get to me mostly thanks to the “amazing” sound production. The talented musician Johnny “Thumper” Benson issued the drumming, some of the bass lines and the rhythm / lead guitars. I must say that his lead work was quite adequate, though there were areas as in the final ending tale of Doom, “End Of Days”, where I wanted to scream out loud into the void of my car, and later on headphones, from the overly played solos, which most of them sounded like meagre improvisations right on the spot. That ended up being a bit lame for a lead guitarist. All in all, I was impressed of how the simplistic riffing fit well with the musical concepts of “Tomb of the Unnamed One” and “Keepers of the Devils Inn”. The Synth really helped on asserting the overall feeling of 70s musical mystery throughout these songs. However, when it came to the vocal line I think that Mr. Shark, as he is also a guitarist in nature, should had let his vocalist in MANILLA ROAD handle the singing duties on this one, other than being just guest, as his vocalic pattern lacked energy while sounding very dreary and at times monotonic.

If you remember earlier, I began this review with badmouthing the production, if you haven’t noticed that I was badmouthing. I have to admit that I don’t like to bash, but when someone needs bashing, I am all there. I couldn’t believe that musicians with such repertoire would let their release to ship out from the studio into the streets with such a bad sound and overall production. The mixing was awful, and when I say awful I mean it. I won’t start describing how foul the release sounded because it will take me probably another paragraph, most likely a long one, so I will stop here and let you guys tune in and listen. In general, HELLWELL were trying to create a different kind of magic and boy do I love horror and mysteries. However, when it came to the music, most of their offering were unappealing, some boring with a sound that tried to mimic the 70s but failed miserably.

2 Star Rating

1. The Strange Case of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
2. Eaters of the Dead
3. Keepers of the Devils Inn
4. Deadly Nightshade
5. Tomb of the Unnamed One
6. The Heart of Ahriman
7. End of Days
Mark “The Shark” Shelton– Vocals
E.C. Hellwell– Bass / Keyboards / Synth
Johnny “Thumper” Benson– Drums / Bass / Guitars
Record Label: High Roller Records


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